This Day in Black History: Sept. 12, 1913

This Day in Black History: Sept. 12, 1913

Jesse Owens, track star and Olympic medalist, was born on Sept. 12, 1913. He won four gold medals in Berlin in 1936.

Published September 12, 2012

One of the most compelling images of Olympic history was in 1936 in Berlin, when Jesse Owens achieved international fame by winning four gold medals in the face of Adolph Hitler’s position of German superiority. Owens was the most successful athlete at the 1936 Olympics. Owens was born in Danville, Alabama, and his family moved to Cleveland during his youth. He attended Ohio State University. After the Berlin Olympics, he decided to pursue lucrative commercial officers, but American athletic officials withdrew his amateur status, creating professional hardship. He was involved in the formation of a baseball association and a new Negro baseball league. Ultimately, he engaged in business ventures that turned out unsuccessfully and he filed for bankruptcy. He was appointed as an American goodwill ambassador. He died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1980, of lung cancer.

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(Photo:  Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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