Track and Field Star – Jesse Owens – Changed the World

Birth and Olympics

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens was born on September 12, 1913 and died on March 31, 1980. He was an American track and field athlete who specialized in the sprints and the long jump.Jesse Owens3

He participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals: one each in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and as part of the 4×100 meter relay team. He was the most successful athlete at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

In the face of Hitler’s prejudices, Jesse, an African American, showed that all races can excel.

The Jesse Owens Award, USA Track and Field’s highest accolade for the year’s best track and field athlete, is named after him, in honor of his significant career.

So It – Running – Began

As a boy and youth, Owens took different jobs in his spare time: he delivered groceries, loaded freight cars and worked in a shoe repair shop while his father and older brother worked at a steel mill. During this period, Owens realized that he had a passion for running.

Throughout his life, Owens attributed the success of his athletic career to the encouragement of Charles Riley, his junior high track coach at Fairmount Junior High School. Since Owens worked in a shoe repair shop after school, Riley allowed him to practice before school instead.

Owens first came to national attention when he was a student of East Technical High School in Cleveland; he equaled the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard (91 m) dash and long-jumped 24 feet 9 ½  inches (7.56 metres) at the 1933 National High School Championship in Chicago.

The Ohio State University

Owens attended Ohio State University after employment was found for his father, ensuring the family could be supported. Affectionately known as the “Buckeye Bullet,” Owens won a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936.

Jesse Ownes 2Though Owens enjoyed athletic success, he had to live off campus with other African-American athletes. When he traveled with the team, Owens was restricted to ordering carry-out or eating at “black-only” restaurants. Similarly, he had to stay at “blacks-only” hotels. Owens did not receive a scholarship for his efforts, so he continued to work part-time jobs to pay for school.

Owens’s greatest achievement came in a span of 45 minutes on May 25, 1935, during the Big Ten meet at Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth. He equaled the world record for the 100 yard dash (9.4 seconds); and set world records in the long jump (26 ft 8 1/4 in or 8.13 m, a world record that would last 25 years); 220-yard (201.2 m) sprint (20.3 seconds); and 220-yard (201.2m) low hurdles (22.6 seconds, becoming the first to break 23 seconds).

In 2005, University of Central Florida professor of sports history Richard C. Crepeau chose these wins on one day as the most impressive athletic achievement since 1850.

The Berlin Olympics and Racism

In 1936, Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the United States in the Summer Olympics. Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He and other government officials had high hopes that German athletes would dominate the games with victories. Meanwhile, Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior.

Owens countered this by winning four gold medals.

On August 3, he won the 100m sprint with a time of 10.3s, defeating teammate Ralph Metcalfe by a tenth of a second. On August 4, he won the long jump with a leap of 26 ft 5 in (later crediting his achievement to the technical advice he received from Luz Long, the German competitor whom he defeated).

On August 5, he won the 200m sprint with a time of 20.7s, defeating Mack Robinson (the older brother of Jackie Robinson). On August 9, Owens won his fourth gold medal in the 4×100 sprint relay when coach Dean Cromwell replaced Jewish-American sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller with Owens and Ralph Metcalf, who teamed with Frank Wykoff and Foy Draper to set a world record of 39.8s in the event.

This performance was not equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the Soviet boycotted 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1935 (the year before the Berlin Olympics), Jesse Owens set the world record in the long jump with a leap of 26 ft 8 in, and this record would stand for 25 years (a very rare length of time for a track and field record), until it was finally broken by Ralph Boston in 1960. Coincidentally, Owens was a spectator at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome when Boston took the gold medal in the long jump.

Just before the competitions, Owens was visited in the Olympic village by Adi Dassler, the founder of the Adidas athletic shoe company. He persuaded Owens to use Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes, the first sponsorship for a male African-American athlete.

On the first day of competition, Hitler shook hands only with the German victors and then left the stadium. Olympic committee officials insisted Hitler greet every medalist or none at all. Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations. Historians have noted that Hitler may have left the games at this time due to looming rain clouds which may have postponed the games. This happened well before Owens was to compete, but has largely come to be believed to be the “snub”.

On reports that Hitler had deliberately avoided acknowledging his victories, and had refused to shake his hand, Owens said at the time:

“Hitler had a certain time to come to the stadium and a certain time to leave. It happened he had to leave before the victory ceremony after the 100 meters. But before he left I was on my way to a broadcast and passed near his box. He waved at me and I waved back. I think it was bad taste to criticize the ‘man of the hour’ in another country.”

Albert Speer writes that Hitler reflected upon Owens’s victories with a shrug as African physiques were primitive and stronger than whites.

Owens was allowed to travel with and stay in the same hotels in Germany as whites. During a New York City ticker-tape parade on Fifth Avenue in his honor, someone handed Owens a paper bag. Owens paid it little mind until the parade concluded. When he opened it up, he found the bag contained $10,000 in cash. Owens’s wife Ruth later said, “And he [Owens] didn’t know who was good enough to do a thing like that. And with all the excitement around, he didn’t pick it up right away. He didn’t pick it up until he got ready to get out of the car.”

After the parade, Owens had to ride the freight elevator at the Waldorf-Astoria to reach the reception honoring him. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) never invited Jesse Owens to the White House following his triumphs at the Olympics games. Since 1936 was a presidential-election year, Roosevelt was afraid that he would lose southern votes if he played kowtow to an African American man.

Owens, who joined the Republican Party after returning from Europe, was paid to campaign for African American votes for Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election.

Owens said, “Hitler didn’t snub me – it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.”

Among Other Honors

In 1996, Owens’s hometown of Oakville, Alabama, dedicated Jesse Owens Memorial Park in his honor, at the same time that the Olympic Torch came through the community, 60 years after his Olympic triumph. An article in the Wall Street Journal of June 7, 1996, covered the event and included this inscription written by poet Charles Ghigna that appears on a bronze plaque at the Park:

May this light shine forever
as a symbol to all who run
for the freedom of sport,
for the spirit of humanity,
for the memory of Jesse Owens.

Can You Run?

I can’t, since high school. So what if can or cannot run? There will never be another exactly like Jesse Owens.

(And yes, the story is true – Jesse Owens did give Harrison Dillard, and the Olympic gold medalist, a pair of his track shoes because Dillard had none at the time. I got this, personally, from the mouth of Harrison Dillard’s track coach – Eddie Finnegan.)

But just because you can or cannot run, doesn’t mean you, personally, can’t change the world. What is it you can do? Only you can answer that. But truly and persistently consider what you might be or do to change the world.

Source: Wikipedia.org      (Please donate to this fine resource.)

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Isaac Sidney “Sid” Caesar – One Person – Changed The World With His Humor

Television Pioneer

Sid Caesar who was born on September 8, 1922 and died on February 12, 2014, was an American comic actor and writer, best known for the pioneering 1950s live television series Your Show of Shows, a 90-minute weekly show watched by 60 million people, and its successor Caesar’s Hour, both of which influenced later generations of comedians.Sid Caesar 1

He also acted in movies; he played Coach Calhoun in Grease (1978) and its sequel Grease 2 (1982), and appeared in the films It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), Silent Movie (1976), History of the World, Part I (1981), and Cannonball Run II (1984).

Impact on Television and Broadway

It has been concluded that “the Caesar shows were the crème de la crème of fifties television,” as they were “studded with satire, and their sketches sharper, edgier, more sophisticated than the other variety shows.” Likewise, it has been noted that Caesar was “…best known as one of the most intelligent and provocative innovators of television comedy.”

According to actress Nanette Fabray, who acted alongside Caesar, “He was the first original TV comedy creation.” His early shows were the “…gold standard for TV sketch comedy.” In 1951, Newsweek noted that according to “the opinion of lots of smart people, Caesar is the best that TV has to offer.” The Saturday Evening Post, had written in it that “in temperament, physique, and technique of operation, Caesar represents a new species of comedian.”

However, his positive impact on television became a negative one for Broadway. Caesar fans preferred to stay home on Saturday nights to watch his show instead of seeing live plays. “The Caesar show became such a Saturday-night must-see habit – the Saturday Night Live of its day.” “…Broadway producers begged NBC to switch the show to midweek.”

Comedy star Carol Burnett, who later had her own hit TV show, remembers winning tickets to see My Fair Lady on Broadway: “I gave the tickets to my roommate because I said, Fair Lady’s gonna be running for a hundred years, but Sid Caesar is live and I’ll never see that again.”

Pills and Alcohol

After nearly 10 years as a prime-time star of television comedy with Your Show of Shows followed by Caesar’s Hour, his stardom ended rapidly and he nearly disappeared from the spotlight. It has been described in this manner:

“Caesar slid into a personal and career abyss … [he] had no interest in movies … He would live and die by the tube. His career was short-circuited by alcohol and pills … The pressures of sudden stardom, of headlining and co-producing a weekly hit show, crushed him.”

Caesar himself felt, “It had all come too fast, was too easy, and he didn’t deserve the acclaim.” Writer Mel Brooks, who also became his close friend, said, “I know of no other comedian, including Chaplin, who could have done nearly ten years of live television. Nobody’s talent was ever more used up than Sid’s. He was one of the greatest artists ever born. But over a period of years, television ground him into sausages.”

Sid Caesar 2In 1977, after blacking out during a stage performance of Neil Simon’s The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Caesar gave up alcohol “cold turkey”. In his 1982 autobiography, Where Have I Been?, and his second book, Caesar’s Hours, he chronicled his struggle to overcome his alcoholism and addiction to sleeping pills.

Not Funny All the Time

In a November 2009 article in the Toluca Lake, California, Tolucan Times, columnist Greg Crosby described a visit with Caesar and his wife Florence at their home.

Of the couple’s meeting, Florence said, “Well, I thought he was nice for the summer … I thought he would be just a nice boyfriend for the summer. He was cute-looking and tall, over six feet…. I was in my last year at Hunter College; we were still dating when Sid went into the service, the Coast Guard. Luckily he was stationed in New York so we were able to continue seeing each other, even though my parents weren’t too happy about it. They never thought he would amount to anything, that he’d never have a real career or make any money. But we were married one year after we met, in July of 1943.”

She also pointed out, “You know, he’s not funny all the time. He can be very serious.” At the time of the interview, the couple had been married for 66 years. Florence Caesar died on March 3, 2010, aged 88.

The Ultimate

On Caesar’s death, Carl Reiner said, “He was the ultimate, he was the very best sketch artist and comedian that ever existed.”

Mel Brooks commented, “Sid Caesar was a giant, maybe the best comedian who ever practiced the trade. And I was privileged to be one of his writers and one of his friends.”

Jon Stewart and The Daily Show paid tribute to Caesar at the show’s close on February 12, 2014.

Are You Funny?

No, you don’t have to be comic genius like Sid Caesar. But you can contribute to the mirth in the world and thereby make it a better place. Passing along witty items through social media you may help the world to laugh a little more, just as an example. Help someone smile today and you will have improved your world and your own life.

Source: Wikipedia.org         (Please donate to this fine resource.)

The Real McCoy – Elijah McCoy – Changed the World

Free Canadian

Elijah J. McCoy, born May 2, 1844, died October 10, 1929, was a black Canadian–American inventor and engineer, who was notable for his 57 U.S. patents, most to do with lubrication of steam engines. Born free in Canada, he moved as a young child with his family to the United States in 1847, where he lived for the rest of his life and became a U.S. citizen.

Elijah McCoyMcCoy’s parents were fugitive slaves who had escaped from Kentucky to Canada via the Underground Railroad. In 1847, the family returned to the US, settling in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He had eleven siblings.

Engineer and Railroad Fireman

At age 15, McCoy traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland for an apprenticeship and study. After some years, he was certified in Scotland as a mechanical engineer. After his return, he rejoined his family.

In Michigan, McCoy could find work only as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad. In a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan McCoy also did more highly skilled work, such as developing improvements and inventions. He invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and ships, “Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines” (U.S. Patent 129,843).

Similar automatic oilers had been patented previously; one is the displacement lubricator, which had already attained widespread use and whose technological descendants continued to be widely used into the 20th century. Lubricators were a boon for railroads, as they enabled trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance.

McCoy continued to refine his devices and design new ones; 50 of his patents dealt with lubricating systems. After the turn of the century, he attracted notice among his black contemporaries. Booker T. Washington in Story of the Negro (1909) recognized him as having produced more patents than any other black inventor up to that time.

This creativity gave McCoy an honored status in the black community that has persisted to this day. He continued to invent until late in life, obtaining as many as 57 patents. Most of these were related to lubrication, but others also included a folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler.

Lacking the capital with which to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers, he usually assigned his patent rights to his employers or sold them to investors. Lubricators with the McCoy name were not manufactured until 1920, near the end of his career. He formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company to produce his works.

Historians Disagree

Historians have not agreed on the importance of McCoy’s contribution to the field of lubrication. He is credited in some biographical sketches with revolutionizing the railroad or machine industries with his devices. Early twentieth-century lubrication literature barely mentions him; for example, his name is absent from E. L. Ahrons’ Lubrication of Locomotives (1922), which does identify several other early pioneers and companies of the field.

The Real McCoy

The popular expression “The real McCoy,” was first known to be published in Canada in 1881, however the linguistically similar “The Real McKay” can be traced to Scottish advertising in 1856. In James S. Bond’s The Rise and Fall of the “Union Club”: or, Boy Life in Canada, a character says, “By jingo! yes; so it will be. It’s the ‘real McCoy,’ as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there.”

This expression, typically used to mean the real thing, has been associated with Elijah McCoy’s oil-drip cup invention. One theory is that railroad engineers’ looking to avoid inferior copies would request it by name, and inquire if a locomotive was fitted with “the real McCoy system”. This possible origin is mentioned as a legend in Elijah McCoy’s biography at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

The original publication of this claim can be traced to the December 1966 issue of Ebony, in an advertisement for Old Taylor publishes the claim, ending in this tag line: “But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name.” The claim was repeated in a 1985 pamphlet printed by the Empak Publishing Company, which did not explain the origin of the expression. The attribution has been disputed, and other origin stories exist for the phrase.

Cultural Legacy

In 1966, an ad for Old Taylor bourbon used a photo of Elijah McCoy and the expression “the real McCoy”, ending in this tag line: “But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name.”

In 2006, the Canadian playwright Andrew Moodie wrote a play called The Real McCoy, which portrays McCoy’s life, the challenges he faced as an African American, and the development of his inventions. It was first produced in Toronto in 2006. It has also been produced in the United States, as in Saint Louis, Missouri in 2011, where it was performed by the Black Rep Theater.

In the book Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman which is set in a fictional racial dystopia where the role of black and white people in society has been reversed, he is mentioned among a list of black scientists, inventors and pioneers when the characters are in a history class.

Well, Here We Are Again

What are you doing in your life to overcome the odds against you? Yes, we all have something or someone standing over against us. Trying to keep you back. Trying to keep you down.

How about standing up for what you believe in? Make the most of your life. No matter from you begin, you can change the world.

Source: Wikipedia.org        (Please donate to this fine resource.)