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Former home of Olympian and Civil Rights icon Jesse Owens named Cleveland landmark

Jesse Owens leaping in mid-air above a sand pit.
Joseph E. Cole
Cleveland Memory Project
Jesse Owens leaped 8.06 meters, an Olympic record, in the broad jump in Berlin, Germany.

The former home of Clevelander and Olympic legend Jesse Owens was designated a Cleveland landmark Monday when Cleveland City Council passed an ordinance honoring the track and field star.

Owens grew up in Cleveland and graduated from East Tech High School and Ohio State University before winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, after Adolf Hitler rose to power.

“It says volumes when we get to celebrate someone coming from our home territory,” said City Council President Blaine Griffin.

The home at 2178 East 100th St. is where Owens lived during the 1936 games, according to City Council. It’s in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood, a predominately Black neighborhood on Cleveland's East Side.

“To be able to honor Jesse Owens, that’s one of those figures of Black excellence in this community,” Griffin said. “I think little young kids need to see that and also older folks that need to be reminded of the days of old.”

The East Tech High School boys track and field team didn't exist last year, but now it's back and hoping to revive its storied history.

The boys track and field coach at East Tech said he too believes it's important to remember Owens.

“Jesse Owens should be celebrated every year as far as I’m concerned,” said coach Michael Hardaway. “Some of these kids don’t always understand the history that came before them.”

Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.