Jesse Owens Museum in Oakville, Alabama
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The Jesse Owens Museum in Oakville, Alabama focuses on Owens' beginnings in a tiny sharecropper's cabin and his amazing feats of physical prowess. The museum includes a replica of the tiny cabin, theater, timeline of Owens life, a wonderful statue of Owens surrounded by the Olympic rings, picnic area, long jump pit and sports fields.
Early BeginningsOwens was small and sickly, the 10th child of Henry and Emma Owens, and went to school in a one-room shack which doubled as the Sunday church. He recalls that despite poor health, I always loved running. I wasn't very good at it, but I loved it, because it was something you could do all by yourself, and under your own power. You could go any direction, as fast or as slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs. And by high school it was evident that Jesse Owens was a world-class athlete, as he won medals, championships and broke records, culminating in his slot on the 1936 Olympic team.
It's certainly hard to top that moment and Owens' life after that clearly had high points and low points but through it all, there was in Owens a hard-driving survivor who never stopped running and trying and working.
The museum is a bit out-of-the-way but residents of Oakville, some of them related to Owens, joined together to buy the 17.5-acre tract, then deeded it to the county. Planning and park development was carried out by the Auburn University and Lawrence County Extension Offices.
Go visit. Pay your respects to an incredible man and an Alabama wonder.
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