Joseph Louis Barrow, born May 12, 1914 in Alabama, was the first athlete America had accepted as a whole with regards to race, a true crossover star who was respected and admired by both black and white fans. His boxing talent was undeniable but this was not the soul reason for his received respect, he was the first man that showed the world that a person color was also able to climb the social ranks given the right opportunity.
This HBO special outlines his importance which was highlighted during several critical periods in American history. From the Great Depression right through World War II and on into the 50’s, Joe Louis was considered to be the poster boy for the American way of life.
When he fought and defeated Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1938, his win was considered to be democracy’s defeat of Nazism and this victory alone boosted public morale and converted Joe Louis into a true American Hero.