Jesse Owens was one of the greatest track stars – and one of the most beloved Olympians – of all time. In a year when hate threatened to overshadow the Olympic Games being held in Nazi Germany, Owens delighted the free world by winning four gold medals and destroying Adolf Hitler's notion that his Aryan athletes were superior to black competitors.
The photos taken of Owens at those 1936 games and in the years beyond depict an amazing athlete who has inspired generations of people of all races.
At the Berlin games, Owens was captured bursting into motion in the 200 meter sprint. A few seconds later, he would capture the gold medal.
In this is Aug. 14, 1936 file photo, Jesse Owens competes in one of the heats of the 200-meter run at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The performance of Jesse Owens will be honored in the stadium where he won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games when the world championships are held in Berlin. (AP Photo, File)
Owens also took gold in the long jump… and the 100 meter sprint and 4x100 meter relay.
Jesse Owens takes gold in the long jump, Berlin 1936 (Wikimedia Commons/German Federal Archive)
Owens proudly saluted as he was presented with one of his four medals.
This Aug. 11, 1936 file photo shows America's Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, after defeating Nazi Germany's Lutz Long, right, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Naoto Tajima of Japan, left, placed third. T (AP Photo/File)
Owens declined to retain his amateur status after the 1936 Olympics, but he still visited future games – like 1960's Summer Olympics in Rome.
Armin Hary and Jesse Owens, the gold medalist in the 100 meter sprint in 1960 and 1936 are to report on 1 Sept. 1960 at the Olympic Village in Rome, the photographer. (AP Photo)
Twenty-eight years after his victory, Owens revisited the stadium where he won.
This is a June 9, 1964, file photo showing Jesse Owens making a nostalgic visit to the scene of his great 1936 Olympic triumph in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/File)
Jesse Owens is remembered today, more than 30 years after his death, with tributes across the U.S. The Jesse Owens Museum is just one of them.
Austin Burch and Houston South look at a photo mural of Jesse Owens in the Jesse Owens Museum in Oakville, Ala., on June 6, 2008 The boys were on a group tour with their class from Decatur Heritage Christian School. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily/Gary Cosby Jr )
Olympic victory and a loving wife – this photo shows two of the most important facets of Owens's life.
Mrs. Ruth Owens grins at the crowd after unveiling a statue of her husband, Jesse Owens, on Saturday, June 29, 1996 at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park in Oakville, Ala. The dedication of the park coincided with the passing of the Olympic torch through Oakville. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (AP Photo/stf)
Written by Linnea Crowther