Union Jack

     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

JESSE OWENS 1913-1980

The '36 games were, for me, the culmination of all 
my training and proved that the colour of your skin 
didn't make a difference; it was the heart, 
it was the energy within you.
Jesse Owens versus Hitler

He was one of an Afro-American family of ten children brought up in a shack in Alabama, until they moved to Cleveland.

PETER: When did you discover your love for running and jumping?
OWENS: When I began to be able to run and jump.  Once we got to Cleveland we didn't have any money for cars or public transportation and it always seemed like I was late, so I ended up running.  At Fairview Junior High, the track coach was Charles Riley.  He was just the sweetest person in the world.  He treated me almost like a son, but he was also a disciplinarian.  He set up a schedule, running home from school, from school to work, from work to home - and a couple of extra laps around the block, not just going straight home.
PETER: You took part in the National High School Championship in Chicago in 1933, and in the 100-yard dash you matched the existing world record of 9.4 seconds.
OWENS: Until then I wasn't racing against other people.  I just kept following what had been drilled into me.  Then I realized what discrimination was like, and being called "boy," and being segregated from some of the other athletes, and it made me mad.  I think part of my time in that race was proving something to them.  It was a tempering for me - as in tempering steel.
PETER: Had you been an athlete in past lives?
OWENS: I was one of the first marathon runners in ancient Greece.  Athletes were just below the kings at that time. We ran for different groups - the senate was a group, the hierarchy was a group, the philosophers were a group - and every group had their stable of athletes.
PETER: Then came the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  You said: "For a time I was the most famous person in the entire world."  Adolf Hitler dreamed of proving that Aryans were the superior race; at only 23, you proved him wrong by winning four gold medals.
OWENS: I created this machine inside of me that would go full blast to prove that what is important is the heart, not the skin colour.
PETER: You had three daughters.  Did you continue to watch their progress, as well?
OWENS: Absolutely.  There's a difference there, because they are souls whom I helped become physical, and I watch over all souls with whom I had intimate contact.

Toni comments: I felt that we were talking more to the physical embodiment of Jesse Owens than to his soul, but his soul was always there.


Talking with Twentieth Century Men
The foregoing are excerpts from Talking with Twentieth Century Men.
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