Joe Louis: Hometown Hero

Joe Louis: Hometown Hero

August 6, 2009 - September 15, 2010

This comprehensive exhibition on the life of an iconic Detroit native is a must for sports fans everywhere. Born the son of an Alabama cotton picker, Joe Louis, known to many as the African American heavyweight champion named the "Brown Bomber," became a national hero and symbol of American democracy versus Nazi intolerance. Muhammad Ali said of Joe Louis, "I just give lip service to being the greatest. He was the greatest." The sportswriter, Jimmy Cannon, summed the Brown Bomber up best when he wrote; "He was a credit to his race – the human race."

Joe Louis: Hometown Hero
presents the museum viewer with an extraordinary view of Joe Louis and his rise to iconic status. The exhibition presents in two parallel timelines: the Joe Louis Story and the American Story. Louis’ life story, in chronological sequence, is viewed against the backdrop of American history. Museum visitors can at once follow the life of Joe Louis and contemporaneously view his life within the context of many of the most important events in American history during the post Civil War Reconstruction Period and the 20th century: the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson establishing “separate but equal” as a legal basis for enforcing the separation of the races, World War I, the Great Migration and Depression, World War II, the U. S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Plessy in Brown vs. the Board of Education and the continuing struggle of African Americans for true equality and the end of racism.