Jesse Owens Museum

Oakville, Alabama



 

Alabama
 

Oakville



Other
Local Interests:

 

Oakville Indian Mounds

 


   Don't forget to check out the video at the end!
 

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Oakville/Danville area. My visit to this area was not a planned. Sometimes the best trips are not always planned as I have discovered. I was returning from a family visit in north Alabama when I saw the museum signs. I had done some research on this area and when I saw the signs, my research came back to me. I turned around and had a great visit.

I arrived at the Owens Museum sometime before official opening hours. I believe Johnnie, the Museum Attendant, felt sorry for me and let me in. I found her to be fascinating. She gave me a personal tour (since I was the only one in there). Found out Johnnie and her husband retired in Mobile, Alabama and moved to the Oakville/Danville some time ago and was loving it. If you get to the Museum, remember to say hello to Johnnie.

In the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, a single man captured the attention of the world, winning 4 gold medals, an Olympic first. Sixty years later, thousands gathered to honor this man with the dedication of a park named in his honor, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park. Dedicated on June 29, 1996 with the arrival of the Olympic torch on its journey to the Atlanta games, the Jesse Owens Memorial Park is a tribute to the Olympic track and field superstar.

The park, located in Oakville, Alabama showcases several memorials for Owens including a museum, statue, 1936 torch replica, and an oak tree of the same variety as Owens' gold medal tree. The park's goal is twofold- to honor the life and accomplishments of this remarkable man and to mirror Owens' dedication to America's youth by investing in the community. The park provides facilities for community use such as a basketball court, baseball/softball fields, playground, and picnic tables and pavilions. The park, in its final phase of a 10-year plan, will come to completion with the construction of an Olympic track. The Jesse Owens Memorial Park is ideal for group tours and field trips.

The Jesse Owens Memorial Park Museum immortalizes Owens' memory by depicting the moments that made Owens great and portraying the people who shaped him as an athlete and as a man. Glass display cases showcase rare memorabilia including programs from the 1936 Olympics, replicas of track uniforms and shoes, and medals and trophies from Owens' high school days. In addition, the museum offers visitors interactive kiosks that highlight Owens' life and accomplishments. 

The museum's mini-theater shows the movie "Return to Berlin" in which Owens narrates the 1936 Olympics. You can follow the panel displays throughout the museum that depict Owens' life beginning in Oakville to his death in 1980. The panel displays highlight Owens' athletic accomplishments as well as his humanitarian efforts.

The seventh out of 11 children of Henry and Emma Alexander Owens was named James Cleveland Owens when he was born in Oakville, Alabama on September 12, 1913. "J.C.", as he was called, was nine when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his new schoolteacher gave him the name that was to become known around the world. The teacher was told "J.C." when she asked his name to enter in her roll book, but because of his strong Southern accent she thought he said "Jesse". The name stuck and he would be known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life.

In 1936, Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the United States in the Summer Olympics. Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes German athletes would dominate the games with victories (the German athletes achieved a top of the table medal haul). Meanwhile, Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of "Aryan racial superiority" and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior.

Owens surprised many by winning four gold medals: On August 3, 1936 he won the 100m sprint, defeating Ralph Metcalfe; on August 4, the long jump (later crediting friendly and helpful advice from Luz Long, the German competitor he ultimately defeated); on August 5, the 200m sprint; and, after he was added to the 4 x 100 m relay team, his fourth on August 9 (a performance not equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Summer Olympics).

 

Operations:
Museum, Welcome Center and Home Replica
Monday-Saturday   10 am to 4 pm
Sunday  1 pm to 4:30 pm

Gates always open for access to playgrounds, ball fields, picnic pavilions and basketball court.

Jesse Owens Memorial Park & Museum
7019 Co. Rd. 203
Danville, AL 35619
 

 

Check out more pictures of the Jesse Owens Museum

 

 

 

A Tour of the Jesse Owens Museum

 
 

 

   

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