James Cleveland Owens was born in 1913 in a small town in Alabama to Henry and Emma Owens. When J.C. was eight, his parents decided to move the family to Cleveland, Ohio because Jesse's pnemonia was worsening, and their sharecropper wanted more of their money. They did not have much money, and J.C.'s father was hoping to find a better job. When they arrived in Cleveland, J.C. was enrolled in a public school. On his first day of class when the teacher asked his name, she heard Jesse, instead of J.C. He would be called Jesse from that point on.
Cleveland was not as prosperous as Henry and Emma had hoped and the family remained very poor. Jesse took on different jobs in his spare time. He delivered groceries, loaded freight …show more content…
By the end of his sophomore year at Ohio State, Jesse realized that he could be successful on a more competitive level. Jesse entered the 1936 Olympics, which to many are known as the "Hitler Olympics." These games were to be held in Nazi Germany, and Hitler was going to prove to the world that the German "Aryan" people were the dominant race. Jesse had different plans, however, and by the end of the games even German fans cheered for him.
Jesse was triumphant in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the broad jump. He was also a key member of the 400-meter relay team that won the Gold Medal. In all but one of these events Jesse set Olympic records. Jesse was the first American in the history of Olympic Track and Field to win four gold medals in a single Olympics.
Despite his success, the financial instability of the Owens family continued. Shamefully, at that time in America he was not offered any endorsement deals because he was black. In an effort to provide for his family, Jesse left school before his senior year to run professionally.