Jesse Owens is a hero to many for his courage, ethics, and triumphs. Maya Angelou, the famous American poet, best explained what a hero gives us as individuals in her poem,

Extravagant Spirits
Without their fierce devotion
We are fragile and forlorn,
Stumbling briefly, among the stars.

We and our futures belong to them
Exquisitely, our beliefs and our
Breaths are made tangible in their love.

By their extravagant spirits, they draw us
From the safe borders
And into the center of the center ring
There they urge dance upon our
Leaden feet
And to our sullen hearts,
Bright laughter.

Not the crowd’s roar nor the gasped
Breath of the timorous can stay their mission.
There is no moderation in their nature.
They spit upon their fingers
To test the wind of history,
Then, slip into our bonds and steal us
Away from the slavery of cowardice.

They skin back their thin lips over fanged teeth and
Rocks in hand, in our presence
Face down our Goliath.

These mothers, fathers, pastors and priests,
These Rabbis, Imams and gurus,
Teach us by their valor and mold us with their courage.

Without their fierce devotion
We are only forlorn and only fragile
Stumbling briefly among the stars.

Jesse Owens went beyond the ‘safe borders’ and choose to run the greatest race of his life before the leader of the Aryan nation, Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. For this achievement and those that followed, Jesse Owens became a man for all Americans to admire.
In junior high Jesse set two new national junior high records by jumping 6.0 feet in the high jump, and 22 feet 11 3/4 inches in the broad jump
In high school he had a sensational high school track career. He won all the major track events, including the state championship for three consecutive years. In his senior year he tied another national high school record by running the 100-yard dash in 9.4 seconds. He set another record in the 220-yard dash by running it in 20.7 seconds. Jesse also set a new World Record in the broad jump by jumping 24 feet 11 3/4 inches. Amazing feats for a senior in high school.
With his national recognition as a high school track champion, colleges were quickly lining up to enroll him in their programs. Surprisingly, Jesse choose Ohio State University, a school that was unable to offer him a scholarship. He worked nights to support himself and his wife Ruth.
It was not surprising that Jesse Owens made the 1936 United States Olympic Team. In 1935 during a Big Ten meet in Michigan, in less than an hour Jesse had in four different events, set three world records and tied a fourth.
The Berlin Olympics were an extravaganza that the German Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler had hoped would prove to the world at large, the supremacy of the Aryan race. In the newly built Olympic stadium, 110,000 seats were filled to watch what Hitler felt would show people everywhere the perfection of his beliefs of what the human race should be. He was prepared to hand out the gold medals to the winners until an unexpected twist took place. In the track and field events it was not his perfect Aryan race that was winning but a group of Black Americans. When Hitler refused to give them the medals personally, the International Olympic Committee told him to either hand out all of the gold medals or none of them. Hitler choose to hand out none, instead meeting with individual athletes of his choosing in private (Jesse Owens was not the first Black American athlete to get a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. The first day of track and field, Cornelius Johnson won the gold medal in the high jump. Then Adolf Hitler commented, "I shall not shake hands with this Negro. Do you really think that I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro?" Hitler considered the Black athletes only slightly less odious than the Jews.
The American press was quick to perceive Hitler’s refusal to give out the Gold medals as a personal affront to Americans. The front page of the New York Times read, "Hitler greets all medallists except Americans
Jesse Owens may not of been what Adolf Hitler wanted as a Gold Medal winner at his Berlin Olympics, but the German spectators were impressed by Owens. (Every time