Tuesday, November 11, 2014
This might be the end of the world. If Joe lost we were back in slavery and beyond help. It would all be true, the accusations that we were lower types of human beings. Only a little higher than apes. True that we were stupid and ugly and lazy and dirty and, unlucky and worst of all, that God Himself hated us and ordained us to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, forever and ever, world without end.
Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 19 (1970).
Remembering the significance to African American Southerners of a world heavyweight championship bout fought by African American boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981), the defending champion, against Primo Carnera (1906-1967), a white Italian challenger and former heavyweight champion. Angelou's grandmother ran a store in the small, strictly segregated, brutally racist town of Stamps, Arkansas. Her family and neighbors crowded the store to listen to the fight on radio. As it turned out, Louis won this and every one of his other twenty-four title defenses until his first retirement in 1949.