#BlackHistoryFacts | Jesse Owens
James "Jesse" Owens (1913 - 1980) was an American track and field star and four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Summer Olympics. Born the son of sharecroppers and the grandson of slaves, he was recognized in his lifetime as the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history. In high school, Owens quickly made a name for himself as a sprinter. He set records in the 100m and 200m dashes as well as the long jump. As a college student competing for Ohio State University, Owens became known as the "Buckeye Bullet" and at the 1935 Big Ten Championships, tied a world record in the 100m dash and set a new world record in the 220m dash, in the 220m low hurdles, and in the long jump, which would stand for 25 years. That same year he competed in and won 42 events, including the NCAA Championships and the Olympic trials. At the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany, Owens won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, long jump, and 4x100m relay. He broke nine Olympic records and set three new world records. He was undoubtedly the most successful athlete at the games, and as a black man, defied Adolf Hitler's theory of Aryan racial superiority. In 1976, Owens received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford and in 1990 was posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal.