By Elizabeth Glenn, age 10
Special to The Tribune by the students of FCCS
Jesse Owens was born on Sept. 12, in Oakville, Alabama.
His real name was James Cleveland Owens, but his family called him J.C. He became “Jesse” when a teacher misunderstood him because of his accent and called him Jesse instead of J.C.
His father was a fast runner. After church, he would race the men in town and he would often win. Jesse loved to watch his father run. Jesse enjoyed games, but his favorites were running games. It was nine miles to his school every day and Jesse ran instead of walking.
When he was nine, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he went to school and began running track, earning lots of awards. He went to Ohio State University and ran on the track team. When his team traveled for meets, Jesse and the other African Americans stayed in different hotels than their white teammates.
In 1936, Jesse Owens made the Olympic team. He competed in the games held in Berlin, Germany. At the time, Germany’s leader was Adolf Hitler. Hitler thought his white Germans were better than the “colored” Americans. However, Jesse won four gold medals and showed the world that skin color was not important.
When he returned home, there was a parade in his honor in New York City. But he still struggled to find a job and couldn’t ride in the front of a bus or enter through the front door of hotels.
Jesse Owens married, had a family, and was given the US medal of freedom. He died in 1980 of lung cancer. In Berlin, a street leading to the Olympic stadium was named after him.
He was known as a champion on and off the field. In Daleville, Alabama, there is a museum honoring Jesse Owens and teaching people about his life.
You can find more information at http://jesseowensmemorialpark.com/wordpress1/museum.
In honor of the state of Alabama’s 200th anniversary approaching in 2019, Governor Kay Ivey launched the Alabama Bicentennial Schools Initiative in December 2017 to give 200 Alabama schools the opportunity to participate in a year-long project representing their state’s history and achievements.
Nearly 400 K-12 schools statewide submitted proposals for the program, and each of the 200 chosen schools received a $2,000 grant to complete their project.
Among the schools chosen for this honor were five home-school groups, one of which was Trussville’s own Faith Community Christian School (FCCS).
For their project, the students of FCCS are collectively writing a book called Everyone Has A Story, which will profile noteworthy Alabamians, selected by the children.
The middle and high school students took a six-week Journalism class in the fall where they learned to write profile news stories about everyday heroes, while the elementary students are writing biographies of famous Alabamians.