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Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza Dedication
Rockefeller Lagoon in Cleveland Ohio
September 25, 2023

There was a dedication of the Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza near Rockefeller Lagoon in Cleveland Ohio on Monday, September 25, 2023.

Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza monument

Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza script


James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens was an American track and field athlete who achieved international fame at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, by winning four gold medals: 100 meters, long jump, 200 meters, and 4 100-meter relay. As a black American man, Jesse was able to disprove Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy by being the most successful athlete at the Games right in front of Hitler.

At the Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza in Cleveland there is a 200m track, and a marking for the 100m, so that kids of all ages can run the same length as Jesse and see how they compare.

Jesse Owens 200m track start

Jesse Owens 100m track marking


There is also a marking of the Gold Medal, world -record long jump length of 26 feet and 5" marked on the track. It's amazing to think he jumped/flew that far.

Jesse Owens long jump

Jesse Owens long jump

Watch this short video to get some perspective.



Cleveland played an important part of Jesse's life. At the age of nine, Jesse and his family moved to Cleveland from Alabama and first came to national attention when he was a student of East Technical High School in Cleveland and later attended Ohio State University.

The ceremony began with a welcome from Elise Yablonsky, Vice President of Community Development, University Circle Inc.

Elise Yablonsky

Elise Yablonsky

She introduced Cleveland Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse who presented a proclamation from City Council to two granddaughters of Jesse Owens who came in from Chicago.

Cleveland Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse

Councilwoman Stephanie Howse

Councilwoman Stephanie Howse and Jesse Owens granddaughters


Then Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin gave some history of Rockefeller Park and the legacies that are represented there by Jesse Owens, Harrison Dillard, Jean M. Capers (the first black woman to be elected to Cleveland city council) and others.

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin



Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne said that Jesse Owens was "a hero that we cannot celebrate enough."

Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne

Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne



He told the story of how on May 25, 1935 Jesse Owens established four world records in a span of 45 minutes during the Big Ten meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he set three world records and tied a fourth.

He told of the Berlin Olympics and Jesse Owens' continued legacy after the Olympics. For winning 4 Gold medals in Berlin, Jesse was given 4 oak tree saplings. The one that survived is at Rhodes HS in Cleveland where he trained. A cutting from that original tree is now the centerpiece of the Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza.

Elise Yablonsky then thanked some of the people behind the project and then introduced artist Angelica Pozo who described her inspiration and process for the Plaza.

Artist Angelica Pozo

Artist Angelica Pozo



The ceremony concluded after remarks from two of Jesse Owens' granddaughters who represented the family at the dedication.

two of Jesse Owens' granddaughters

Two of Jesse Owens' granddaughters

two of Jesse Owens' granddaughters and the Jesse Owens Oak Tree

Speaking in front of the Jesse Owens Oak Tree




Along the track circling the Jesse Owens Tree and Plaza there are markers telling the story of parts of Jesse Owens' life. There was also a temporary Story Walk circling the Plaza.

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - Story Walk

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Jesse Owens Plaza in Cleveland - markers

Enjoy these other images from the Jesse Owens Olympic Oak Plaza Dedication.

Chris Ronayne and Blaine Griffin with CMSD Bethune students

Chris Ronayne and Blaine Griffin with
CMSD Mary McLeod Bethune School students


Some of Jesse Owens family members

Some of Jesse Owens family members


Jesse Owens speakers group photo


Jesse Owens dedication group photo


Jesse Owens dedication UCI group photo


Jesse Owens quote



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