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Life of Jesse Owens

Being an African-American in the decade of the 1920s was really hard. As sharecroppers, the Owens had to harvest to feed ten kids. Lillie, Jesse's little sister, moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in the quest of a job and wrote to her family about great opportunities available in such a big city, which caused the family to make the decision to move away from Alabama.

In Cleveland, the life of Jesse Owens was lived with his family in a ghetto, where Blacks and poor people were confined. The Owens found a way to send Jesse, the youngest kid, to the public school. As an Alabaman, the young Jesse had a southern accent and liked to be called J.C instead of his full name of James Cleveland. During the first day at school in his new home, a teacher confused by the accent gave him the name that the world will know: Jesse instead of J.C.

High school and college years marked a period of time in the life of Jesse Owens, in which endurance and his skills as an athlete were the focus point toward his Olympic career catapulted in Berlin, in which his records were not broken until the Olympic Games of 1956 and 1960. Back to the United States in 1936, Jesse received numerous cash offers, including ten thousand dollars for supporting Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon, and he eventually would become a civic leader himself.

The life of Jesse Owens took a new path when his public performances were reduced to exhibitions, tours with bands, basketball and baseball teams. Money continued to flow into the Owens family but a laundry that Jesse owned took him to the courts after poor management and unpaid taxes leading him to file his bankruptcy in the late 1940s. Through the following 20 years, Jesse Owens worked in public relations showing off his huge patriotism, modesty, and conservative racial aptitude that was admired by all white Americans and a sort of super hero for all Blacks.

During his senior years, the Life of Jesse Owens spun around the Olympic Games again, but now as a representative for the U.S. Olympic Committee. Many black Americans criticized Owens after racial protests arose at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. In 1976, President Gerard Ford awarded Jesse the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal awarded by President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Jesse Owens died of lung cancer in 1980 at age 66 while living in Tucson, Arizona.