Visitors will be drawn to the eight-foot, one-ton bronze statue of Jesse Owens in the Gold Medallion Court located just outside the museum. The statue depicts Owens bursting through the Olympic rings. Birmingham sculptor, Branko Medenica, designed the statue to represent all the barriers that Owens broke in becoming an Olympic hero including racial and economic barriers. Owens also broke world records and destroyed Hitler’s claim of Aryan supremacy in the 1936 Olympic games.
The statue’s inscription reads: “Athlete and humanitarian whose inspiration personifies the spirit and promise of America.”
The $80,000 statue was financed by a $75,000 federal Appalachian Regional Commission grant, a $4,200 Alabama Arts Council grant and private donations.