AS THIS column is being completed, a number of the Barnesville High School track team are competing for state final competition in Columbus in the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at The Ohio State University. Again, I'm going to get personal. My great-grandson, Kohl Campbell, is competing in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles. Matthew Burkhart is competing in the 400 M dash. They join Kane Stephens and Caide Bunfill for the outstanding 4 x 400 relay team. Friday's winners would go on to the finals on Saturday. Of course, the final results are well known now.(See the article and pictures on page B1).
ANOTHER THING that prompted my interest in this is the name of the stadium. I didn't realize this stadium was named for the former Ohio State and world famed track star. The seventh child of an Alabama sharecropper, he was named James Cleveland Owens, but called "J.C." When the family moved to Cleveland when he was about eight or nine, the teacher asked him his name. When he answered "J.C." the teacher heard it as Jesse. That name stuck with him the rest of his life. Throughout his youth he excelled in track, winning countless championships at all levels. At Ohio State he earned more and more championships at the collegiate level and nationally. During his college years racial prejudice was still rampant. He was not allowed to live in the boys' dormitory or eat in most restaurants, attend movies, etc.
DESPITE THE discrimination, Jesse qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Hitler's Germany where the dictator planned to show the superiority of the Aryan race. But, Jesse Owens won four gold medals which Hitler had to accept, and it set Jesse Owens as the greatest track star in the world.
JESSE OWENS never received a bachelor's degree from Ohio State. He was ineligible to participate in athletics for several quarters because of his grades. He was too busy with sports and jobs and making a living. In spite of all this, the university awarded him a doctorate of athletic arts "for his unparalleled skill and ability" as an athlete and for his personification of sportsmanship ideals."
IT'S NICE to think about the tremendous changes and progress in 80 years since I saw Jesee Owens run in the "Horseshoe" and my grandson run in a stadium named for him.
Jeanealities is compiled by Jean Palmer Davies, a lifetime Barnesville Enterprise associate. She may be reached at email@example.com.