Hidden History: Jesse Owens

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Jesse Owens is mostly remembered for what he did in the 1936 Olympics. But long before he took his place on the starting line, he got his start in Alabama.

This land looks a lot different than it did than the last time Jesse Owens saw it himself. Long before the world famous athlete heard a starter pistol, he spent 9 hard years living on this land in Northwest Alabama. Where a replica of his childhood home now reminds visitors that adversity never stopped Jesse Owens will to win. The youngest of ten children- many of them living together in a house like these, a replica on the family property.

“They had a hard life here, nothing come easy for him,” says James Pinion, Co-director, Jesse Owens Museum.

But winning would soon come easy for him after his family moved to Ohio, where his unheard of success at Ohio State University, earned him a greater, controversial opportunity. In front of the world, Owens embarrassed Nazi Germany. Dedicated in 1996, the museum displays the history of Owens life for all to see. Attracting thousands of visitors every year, many not realizing he was born right here in Alabama.

Jesse Owens would continue those impacts until his death in 1980. His birthplace, perhaps hard to find, but also hard to forget…As the impact he had on the sporting world paved a way for today’s athletes to succeed. 

Hidden History, a celebration of black history, is sponsored by Missouri Southern State University.

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