On Saturday, September 21, 2013, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum pays tribute to the legacy of Olympic track and field superstar Jesse Owens in commemoration of his 100th birthday with a day filled with free food, Olympic-style competitions, and museum tours. With a theme of One Chance Is All You Need, the Centennial Birthday Celebration gets underway at 11 a.m. at the Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum located at 7019 County Road 203 in Danville, Ala.
Born in 1913 in Oakville, Ala., Jesse Owens moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was nine years old, and soon thereafter, at the age of 15, he began the transformation into an Olympic champion. During his tenure at Ohio State, he set new conference records in all three events he competed in: the 100-yard dash 9.6 seconds, the 220-yard dash 21.0 seconds and the long jump 24 feet 10 inches, and was undefeated in 42 events and won 4 firsts at the Big Ten Championships, four in the NCAA Championship and two in the NAAU Championships. At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, he captured four gold medals, overcoming racial and socioeconomic barriers. In 1955, he was named Ambassador of Sports by President Eisenhower and toured the world promoting the virtues of amateur programs and served as his personal representative to the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. In 1970, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and in 1976, President Gerald Ford presented him the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the US bestows upon a civilian, saying, “Your character, your achievement, always will be a source of inspiration.” In 1979, President Jimmy Carter presented him with the Living Legend Award. Jesse Owens died of lunch cancer at the age of 66.