Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Elwood D. Watson

Committee Members

J. David Briley


Jesse Owens was the star of the Berlin Olympics in 1936. His four gold medals in Hitler's Germany, as an African American, had far reaching implications back in the United States. Despite segregation and a social hierarchy that was an impasse to both black opportunity and achievement, Owens created a lasting legacy that drastically impacted race relations. The purpose of this thesis was to examine what the Olympic glory of Owens represented for society. Owens as an Olympian in 1936 manufactured a brand of social capital that tied people together in commonality—as Americans. As well, in both myth and deed, Owens has been traditionally credited with challenging Hitler's beliefs of Aryan Supremacy. Yet, Owens was also a race pioneer, as his athletic feats were read in newspapers all over the country, and as a result, helped shift the consciousness of Southerners who were historically ignorant of black achievement.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.