CLEVELAND (WJW) – A new tree to honor local Olympic great Jesse Owens has been planted outside of the James Ford Rhodes High School.
In 1936, Jesse Owens brought home four gold medals from the Berlin Olympic Games and was previously a record-setting sprinter at the Ohio State University.
Organizers said in a press release that “as a Black competitor in Nazi Germany, his success stood as a powerful statement against Adolf Hitler’s belief in Aryan supremacy.”
According to the press release, at the time, the Olympic Committee presented Owens with four English oak saplings. The trees were planted then in Berlin, behind his childhood home, at The Ohio State University, and at James Ford Rhodes High School where he practiced track.
“After years of intense stewardship from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) and horticultural partners, the original tree succumbed to its natural life cycle and did not return with any spring growth in 2022,” said organizers.
The group made up of city leaders, neighborhood groups, and students will now plant a replacement at the high school.
Organizers said, “The Jesse Owens Olympic Oak tree is a powerful symbol of his legacy.”