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Olympic Speedster Jesse Owens Visits Bloomington

Famed Olympian Jesse Owens visited Bloomington on June 27, 1938, less than two years after winning four track and field gold medals (100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4x100 meter relay) at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany.

Owens was at Fans' Field on Bloomington's south side providing the entertainment for a minor league baseball doubleheader between the hometown Bloomers and the visiting Decatur Commodores. Before some 3,500 spectators, Owens competed against Vic Oehler of the Commodores, Bud Adams of the Bloomers, and Kenneth Chittum, a sprinter from Illinois Wesleyan University, in the 100 yard dash. The “Buckeye Bullet" (as the former Ohio State University star was known) beat Adams and Chittum, but finished behind Oehler, who like Adams was given a 10-yard head start!

Owens was a hero to many Americans, especially those in the black community, for his Berlin medal haul, an accomplishment that gave lie to Adolf Hitler's Nazi ideology of Aryan racial superiority. He's seen here signing autographs for a group of local boys.


Written By

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

Posted in Historic Photos

July 31st, 2013

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