Updated:
Original:
Year
1936

Jesse Owens wins long jump–and respect–in Germany

On this day in 1936, American Jesse Owens wins gold in the long jump at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. It was the second of four gold medals Owens won in Berlin, as he firmly dispelled German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler’s notion of the superiority of an Aryan “master race,” for all the world to see.

Jesse Owens first made his mark on the international stage at just 21 years old on May 25, 1935, while an undergrad at Ohio State University, by setting three world records and tying another at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The Buckeye Bullet” started his afternoon by running the 100-meter dash in just 9.4 seconds to tie the world record. Just 10 minutes later, Owens jumped 26’8 1/4″, setting a world record he would hold until 1951. And, ten minutes after that, Owens set another world record in the 220-yard dash with a time of 20.3 seconds. Finally, less than an hour after his afternoon of competition started, Owens ran the 220-yard hurdles in 22.6 seconds for his third outright world record of the day. Owens’ impressive performance caused a sensation across the United States, and the track world looked forward to following his progress at the upcoming 1936 Olympics.

Owens would win his third gold medal and set his second Olympic record of the games in the 200 meters the next day. On August 9, he followed that up by helping his team set a new world record—39.8 seconds—in the 4 x 100 meter relay. Owens and Metcalfe replaced two American Jews, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, originally scheduled to run the relay that day. Later, the U.S. team was criticized for the move, which was thought to be an appeasement of Hitler and the Nazi party, who would likely have been even angrier to see Jews, already a frequent target of Nazi hate and harassment, bring home a medal.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Slain civil rights workers found

The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in ...read more

Lizzie Borden's parents found dead

On this day in 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden are found hacked to death in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home. Andrew was discovered in a pool of blood on the living room couch, his face nearly split in two. Abby was upstairs, her head smashed to pieces; it was later determined ...read more

Anne Frank captured

Acting on tip from a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo captures 15-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family in a sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942 out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They occupied ...read more

Lizzie Borden took an axe…

Andrew and Abby Borden, elderly residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, are found bludgeoned to death in their home. Lying in a pool of blood on the living room couch, Andrew’s face had been nearly split in two. Abby, Lizzie’s stepmother, was found upstairs with her head smashed ...read more

U.S. proclaims neutrality in World War I

As World War I erupts in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson formally proclaims the neutrality of the United States, a position that a vast majority of Americans favored, on August 4, 1914. Wilson’s initial hope that America could be “impartial in thought as well as in action” was ...read more