Jesse Owens
A Life in American History
by F. Erik Brooks and Kevin M. Jones
November 2021, 187pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7382-9
$63, £47, 55€, A86
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7383-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics as well as a record eight individual NCAA championships, four each in 1935 and 1936.

A compelling resource for sports enthusiasts, Jesse Owens: A Life in American History places the life and athletic accomplishments of Jesse Owens within the context of race and American history in the early 20th century.

The year 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the death of one of the greatest track and field athletes in intercollegiate and Olympic history. This book examines Jesse Owens’ upbringing, religious and spiritual life, and collegiate years and includes an examination of race, politics, and Nazi Germany as a backdrop to the 1936 Olympics. It also considers Owens’ personal economic hardships after his triumph at the Olympic Games, his death, and his legacy.

This biography series title will appeal to general readers, history buffs, and sports enthusiasts. Chapters are organized around the major developments in Jesse Owens’ life, from his birth in Oakville, Alabama in 1913 to his death in Tucson, Arizona in 1980, and all of his groundbreaking athletic achievements in between. Primary source documents, sidebars, a timeline, and a bibliography provide valuable additional information for readers. The final chapter, “Why Jesse Owens Matters,” explores his cultural and historical significance.


  • Provides readers with an understanding of race, politics, amateur athletics, and the 1936 summer Olympic Games
  • Demonstrates how pivotal moments in the life of Jesse Owens worked together to make him a champion
  • Shows the importance of family, coaches, and friends in Owens's life and career
  • Illustrates the importance of Owens's performance in the Berlin Olympics and how it created a platform for other African American athletes
F. Erik Brooks is professor and dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Kentucky State University. He holds a doctor of philosophy in public policy and administration from Virginia Commonwealth University's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. He has written extensively on public administration, American politics, and African American history.

Kevin M. Jones, EdD, is dean and assistant professor of education at Cedarville University. He holds a doctor of education in educational leadership from Spalding University. He has written on educational leadership and slavery and racism in the history of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Black History Lives

This biography series explores the lives of the most iconic figures in African American history, with material that supports the Common Core Standards while highlighting the subject’s significance in our contemporary world. Each volume includes a narrative of the life of each subject, a chapter on the subject’s larger cultural and historical significance, a chronology, a comprehensive bibliography, and sidebars that offer pertinent cultural connections to the worlds of social, political, intellectual, and popular culture. An appendix of primary document excerpts rounds out each volume. Readers of the Black History Lives series will gain a greater understanding of the outside events and influences that shaped each subject’s world, from familial relationships to political and cultural developments.


Series foreword Biographical narrative chapters Why X Matters chapter that explores the subject’s importance within the context of American history Timeline Bibliography Primary Source Documents “Cultural Connections” Sidebars Index
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