Just Off My Bookshelf: Triumph

Triumph tells the story of Jesse Owens’ awe-inspiring accomplishments during the 1936 Olympics. Jesse Owens was a black man who dominated in track-and-field while also enduring abject racism in America and in Germany (during the Olympics). This book led me to celebrate the humility, character and endurance of Jesse Owens. At the same time, it was a sober reminder of the degradation African-Americans endured with great dignity. This man faced obstacles I will never know and still accomplished remarkable feats.

A few quotes:

“I always loved running because it was something you could do all by yourself, all under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

As a student at Ohio State:

” [Coach] Snyder didn’t like it that Owens and Albritton could not live on campus–or in many places off-campus in Columbus–so he tried as best he could to make the track team, at least, a place where his black athletes would not feel the sting of segregation.”

“I haven’t had much time to study, you know. I work two hours a day at the legislature and four hours a day at the gasoline station.”

After winning for gold medals at the Olympics:

“Ruth [Jesse’s wife] went to New York with Jesse’s parents to see her husband for the first time in two months–but together they spent a frustrating and humiliating night being rejected for service by hotel after hotel…Even in New York, it didn’t matter whether you were the world’s greatest athlete, if you were black.”

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