Jesse Owens Timeline

1913-09-12 00:00:00

Owens is Born

On September 12, Mary Emma Owens gives birth to James Cleveland (J.C.) Owens in Oakville, Alabama.

1922-08-01 00:00:00

Move to Ohio

The Owens family moves to Cleveland, Ohio. James Cleveland Owens enrolls in Bolton Elementary School where he becomes known as "Jesse" (from "J.C.") Owens.

1928-04-01 00:00:00

First Track Records

Owens sets his first records in the high jump and long jump at Fairmount Junior High School under coach and life-long mentor, Charles Riley.

1930-03-01 04:33:07

East Tech

Owens enrolls into Cleveland's East Technical School. Riley follows as a volunteer assistant coach.

1930-11-01 04:33:07


Owens and Minnie Ruth Solomon meet.

1932-02-01 04:33:07

Midwestern Preliminary Trials

Owens competes in the Midwestern preliminary trials at Northwestern University. He loses all three events in which he competes.

1932-04-01 04:33:07


Owens and Minnie Ruth Solomon marry.

1932-08-01 04:33:07


Minnie Ruth gives birth to their first child, a daughter named Gloria.

1932-11-01 08:23:21

Team Captain

Owens is elected president of his senior class and captain of the track team.

1933-04-01 08:23:21

Track Star

Owens finishes first in 75 of the 79 competitions he enters. He breaks the long-jump record at the state interscholastic finals.

1933-06-01 08:23:21

National Championship

At the National Championship in Chicago, Owens wins the long jump, sets a new world record in the 220-yard dash and ties the world record in the 100-yard dash.

1933-10-09 08:23:21


On October 9, Owens enrolls at The Ohio State University.

1935-02-06 08:23:21

Honorary Page

Owens is appointed as an honorary page for a legislative committee at the Ohio Statehouse.

1935-05-25 00:00:00

World Records

Owens sets world records in the 22-yard dash, 220-yard low hurdles and the long jump in less than one hour at the Big Ten Finals on May 25 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

1936-06-15 00:00:00

Last Quarter

Owens finished his last quarter at OSU before the Olympics.

1936-07-01 00:00:00

Olympic Tryouts

Owens participates in the Olympic tryout finals in New York, winning all three of his events (100m, 200m, and long jump).

1936-08-01 00:00:00

1936 Olympics

Owens wins four gold medals in the Olympic Games. He sets new world records in the 200 meter race (20.7 seconds), long jmp (26 feet, 5 1/4 inches), and 400 meter relay (39.8 seconds), while tying the world record for 100 meter dash (10.3 seconds).

1936-12-01 00:00:00


Owens becomes ineligible to compete for Ohio State due to poor academic standings.

1936-12-17 04:33:07

Horse Race

Owens races a thoroughbred horse in Cuba for $2,000. Owens wins the race.

1937-06-01 00:00:00

Consolidated Radio Artists

Jesse signs a contract with Consolidated Radio Artists as an entertainer.

1937-11-01 04:33:07


Ruth and Jesse's second child, Marlene, is born.

1938-01-01 00:00:00

Parks and Recreation

Owens works for Cleveland's Parks and Recreation Department.

1938-08-01 04:33:07

Dry Cleaning

Owens founds Jesse Owens Dry Cleaning Company.

1939-02-01 04:33:07


Owens files for personal bankruptcy.

1940-06-01 04:33:07


Ruth and Jesse's third child, Beverly, is born.

1940-10-01 04:33:07

Return to OSU

Owens returns to OSU but he is soon placed on academic probation.

1941-12-19 04:33:07

Withdraws from OSU

Owens withdraws from OSU

1942-01-01 04:33:07

Director of National Fitness

Owens is appointed the Director of National Fitness by the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense.

1943-05-01 00:00:00

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Co. hired Owens as Assistant Personnel Director of African-American workers. He is then promoted to director, and later works in public relations.

1949-07-01 08:23:21


Owens and his family move to Chicago, where he establishes a public relations agency.

1950-07-01 00:00:00

Greatest Track Athlete

The Associated Press names Owens the greatest track athlete of the past half-century.

1953-12-01 08:23:21

Gloria Graduates

Gloria, Owens' eldest daughter, graduates from OSU.

1953-12-17 00:00:00

State Athletic Commission

Owens is appointed secretary of Illinois' State Athletic Commission.

1955-07-01 08:23:21

Travel to Asia

Owens travels to India, the Philippines, and Malaysia to lead running clinics, but also to promote the economic and political freedoms of the United States of America.

1957-08-01 00:00:00

1956 Summer Olympics

Owens and several other former U.S. Olympic champions attend the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, as personal representatives of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

1960-10-01 00:00:00

Queen Marlene

Marlene, Jesse's second-eldest daughter, is voted Homecoming Queen at OSU, becoming the first African American to receive the honor.

1961-06-01 04:33:07

Marlene Graduates

Marlene graduates from OSU.

1965-01-01 00:00:00

ARCO Jesse Owens Games

The first ARCO Jesse Owens Games is established.

1965-02-01 04:33:07

New York Mets

Owens becomes the training and running coach during spring training for the New York Mets baseball team.

1970-06-01 04:33:07


Owens' memoir, "Blackthink: My Life as Black Man and White Man," is published.

1971-01-01 00:00:00

Ivory Coast

President Richard Nixon sends Owens to the Ivory Coast in West Africa to lead running clinics and promote economic and political freedoms of the United States of America.

1972-06-01 04:33:07

Honorary Doctorate

OSU awards Owens with an honorary doctorate of athletic arts "for his unparalleled skill and ability" as an athlete and for "his personification of sportsmanship ideals."

1973-10-01 04:33:07

US Olympic Committee

The U.S. Olympic Committee appoints Owens to its board of directors. He spends most of his time in this position pushing for funding to equip and train U.S. athletes.

1974-01-01 00:00:00

US Track and Field Hall of Fame

Owens is inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame.

1976-01-01 04:33:07

Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Gerald Ford presents Owens with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by the U.S. government.

1979-05-01 00:00:00

Lung Cancer

Owens, a lifetime smoker, is diagnosed with lung cancer.

1980-03-31 00:00:00

Owens Dies

Owens dies on March 31 at the age of 66.

1984-05-04 00:00:00

Jesse Owens Memorial Plaza

On May 4, the Jesse Owens Memorial Plaza is dedicated outside Ohio Stadium on the OSU campus.

1984-07-08 00:00:00

The Jesse Owens Story

"The Jesse Owens Story" debuts on television with actor Dorian Harewood playing Owens.

1996-06-29 00:00:00

Jesse Owens Memorial Park

On June 29 Jesse Owens Memorial Park is dedicated in Oakville, Alabama.

Jesse Owens Timeline

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