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Daughters Of Jesse Owens Saddened By Closure Of School Named For Olympic Star

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Jesse Owens School. (CBS)

Jesse Owens School. (CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Dozen schools closing are named after famous African-Americans. It’s not just losing a building in the community but losing a part of the black history.

Dorothy Tucker talked to the daughters of Olympic champion Jesse Owens.

The Youtube video of Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics has more than million hits.

It was a victory that disproved Hitler’s notion of white supremacy, making Owens a national hero.

Marlene Owens Rankin is the track star’s youngest daughter. Beverly Prather is the middle child. They have an older sister.

They’re surrounded by paintings, awards and photos of events applauding their father’s life. One of their proudest moments 1980, a small school in West Pullman named in his honor.

When asked how proud the family was the day the school was dedicated, Beverly Prather said,”It’s like your swelling up on the inside and just to know that he had been so well thought of.”

But now, Jesse Owens grade school is closing.

The sisters say it’s not just the building they’re losing, it’s the history lessons.

“The kids were taught who he was and what his life was about, his achievements and they were encouraged to know that in spite of adversity you can achieve,” said Marlene Rankin.

“If the school is gone than what do you do? what kind of lessons will they learn and where will they learn the lessons after the school is gone?” said Beverly Prather.

In a telephone conversation…a spokesman from CPS said the district didn’t realize so many of the schools on the list were named after famous African Americans. However, he says it wasn’t intentional.

He noted that many other schools not on the closing list are also named after African Americans.

Schools bearing the names of Louis Armstrong, Crispus Attucks, Benjamin Banneker, Mary Mcleod Bethune, Marcus Garvey, Matthew Henson and Mahalia Jackson will also be closing.

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