Historic Markers Across Alabama

James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens

Marker ID:  
Location: County Route 203, Danville, Alabama
County: Lawrence
Coordinates: N 34° 26.265    W 087° 10.184
  34.43775    -87.16973333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMNC6C


Born near this site 12 September 1913 to Henry Cleveland and Emma (Fitzgerald)Owens, who were sharecroppers and the offspring of freed slaves, Jesse was destined to attain immorality in the 1936 Olympic Games at Berlin, Germany. Although he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, at age 9, his early years here in Lawrence County, Alabama, helped mold his noble character. After high school, he enrolled at Ohio State where on 25 May 1935 at a Big Ten Conference meet, he broke and tied various world track and field records, thus beginning the legend. He married Minnie Ruth Solomon 10 Aug. 1935. In August 1936, he achieved greatness, setting and tying several world records while winning four gold medals.
Adolph Hitler, because of his racial views, stormed out of the arena refusing to present Jesse with his medals. He returned to the U.S. to a hero's welcome and a ticker tape parade. Due to the prevalent racism of the time however, he was able to obtain financial security only in later years. Four U.S. presidents honored him. Although he died 31 Mar. 1980 at Tucson, Arizona, his memory will endure the ages.

Erected by Lawrence County Historical Commission Inc.

End of James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens