Atlanta students design Jesse Owens mural

The achievements of Jesse Owens, the four-time 1936 Olympics gold medal winner, will be dramatized in a 2016 movie, “Race.”

But well ahead of its premiere planned for next April, a large-scale outdoor mural celebrating Owens’ Berlin Games feat recently was unveiled at KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Atlanta Collegiate in northwest Atlanta.

KIPP art teacher Eric Mack (right) helps students (from left) Aryeon Johnson, Destiny Jackson and Emilio Velazquez cut the ribbon on the project. CONTRIBUTED BY CAROLYN SLOSS

Students at several KIPP schools, after studying up on Owens’ accomplishment in the face of segregation back home and Nazi propaganda suggesting the racial superiority of Aryan athletes over ethnic African ones, collaborated to design the mural.

It features large laurel branches encircling a track, which itself forms the letter “O” for the athlete’s last name. A pair of white track shoes dangle from this focal point, contrasting with the French grey background. Huge characters spelling out “1936” and “Owens” feature a font derived from an ancient Roman style used during the first Olympics, said Eric Mack, KIPP Strive Primary’s art teacher who guided the project.

“The way in which Jesse Owens overcame adversity to stand tall in history is inspirational for all of our students,” said Kinnari Patel-Smyth, executive director of KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools. “This mural will be a part of our community for a long time.”

View it at 98 Anderson Ave. N.W.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author