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Marlene Owens Rankin

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Information about Marlene Owens Rankin

Profile image of Marlene Owens Rankin

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive
Social Worker

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange, Red, White
Favorite Food:
Chili, Beans, Pie (Lemon Meringue)
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Michigan, Phoenix, Arizona, Greece, Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/19/1939
Birth Location:
Cleveland, Ohio

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive
Social Worker

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Orange, Red, White
Favorite Food:
Chili, Beans, Pie (Lemon Meringue)
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Michigan, Phoenix, Arizona, Greece, Bahamas
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/19/1939
Birth Location:
Cleveland
See how Marlene Owens Rankin is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Daughter of world-famous track star Jesse Owens, Marlene Owens Rankin was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 19, 1939. Moving with her family first to Detroit, Rankin graduated from high school in Chicago in 1957. After graduation, Rankin returned to Ohio, where she attended Ohio State University, becoming the first African American homecoming queen in the school's history in 1961. Graduating in 1961 with her bachelor's degree in social work, Rankin later attended the University of Chicago, earning her master's degree in 1978.

Growing up watching her father win worldwide athletic events only to be rejected by racism at home inspired Rankin to work to foster interracial understanding and help youth throughout her career. After earning her B.A. degree, Rankin went to work for the Cook County Department of Public Aid in the Children's division as a social worker. Rankin worked for a year with the Chicago Youth Centers/Project Learn as a social worker for a year, before joining the Chicago Committee on Urban Opportunities/Model Cities program as the senior planner; she remained at this position for six years. In 1978, Rankin went to work for the United Charities of Chicago as a clinical social worker and the director of human resources; she stayed in this position for ten years before becoming the director of human resources at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Upon the death of her father in 1980, Rankin, her two sisters, and friends, formed the Jesse Owens Foundation to perpetuate his beliefs and indomitable spirit to future generations. The foundation established scholarships through the Ohio State University and provided hundreds of young adults with support for their education. In 1990, Rankin became the executive director of the Jesse Owens Foundation, where she was working at the time of her interview.

Rankin remained active over the years in a number of organizations, serving as a member of the board of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, and as the chairperson of the Ohio State University Annual Fund from 1991 to 1995. Rankin also served on the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club and the Sporting Chance Foundation. Today's Chicago Woman named Rankin one of 100 Women Making a Difference in 1992; she was awarded the Annual Orchid Award from the Top Ladies of Distinction. Rankin and Stuart, her husband of over forty years, raised one son.

See how Marlene Owens Rankin is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marlene Rankin interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marlene Rankin lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marlene Rankin recalls her family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marlene Rankin remembers her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marlene Rankin discusses the park dedicated to her father, Jesse Owens
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marlene Rankin describes her father's, Jesse Owens, youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marlene Rankin shares stories about her father, Jesse Owens, in the 1936 Berlin Olympics
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marlene Rankin describes her father's struggles to support their family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marlene Rankin remembers her family's frequent moves
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marlene Rankin recounts her early school experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marlene Rankin discusses Chicago's high schools
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marlene Rankin recalls her high school activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marlene Rankin describes her transition to Ohio State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marlene Rankin remembers serving as Ohio State's first black Homecoming Queen
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marlene Rankin recounts the impact of the Civil Rights Movement at Ohio State
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marlene Rankin recalls the 1960 Presidential election
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marlene Rankin discusses her career
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marlene Rankin discusses the Jesse Owens Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marlene Rankin recounts the pressure on her family to be politically active
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marlene Rankin shares her hopes and concerns for the black community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marlene Rankin considers her legacy