Jesse Owens' Daughters Protest School's Name Change

Jesse Owens Community Academy will change its name to Gompers South

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Going forward, Jesse Owens Community Academy will be referred to as Gompers South, a decision the Olympic track and field star's three daughters think is disrespectful.

    The daughters of Olympic track and field hero Jesse Owens are not happy that their father's name will be removed from a South Side elementary school.

    Jesse Owens Community Academy (12540 S State St) was one of 49 elementary schools CPS closed this year, but the building will remain open as part of the school the students moved to, Samuel Gompers Fine Arts Option School.

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    But the Owens building will now be called Gompers South, a decision Owens' three daughters think is disrespectful.

    "What does this say about the value of a name, the value of a person? That they are disposable?" said Marlene Owens Rankin. "There are a lot of people that recogize the kind of hero and icon that he is and respect that, so to have this happen is with total disregard for how anyone feels about it."

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    The women, who still live in Chicago, have sent a letter to city and school officials to try to get the name restored.

    A CPS official said the naming decisions are left up to the Local School Council.

    Owens lived much of his adult life in Chicago. The sprinter and long jumper won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. His performances live in infamy because they were witnessed by Adolf Hitler, who was using the Games as a platform to showcase his beliefs of Aryan racial superiority.

    Owens died in 1980 and is buried at Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.