Viewing page 3 of 9


"I'm fighting for my country," Joe Louis told reporters, who, one the occasion of the Louis-Baer bout for Navy Relief, asked him why he was fighting "for nothing."
Joe's an army man now.  He fights in a larger ring, a ring that covers the entire globe.  And millions of people the world over are fighting with Joe in this battle. On Joe's side is Dorie Miller who, on May 11, was awarded the Navy Cross by President Roosevelt for conspicuous bravery at Pearl Harbor.  On Joe's side is Lieutenant Bulkeley, holder of the Distinguished Service Cross, who sank a 5,000-ton Japanese ship on the west coast of Luzon Island. 
The stakes in this fight overshadow by far the Louis Schmeling bout of '38.  For the stakes are the freedom and independence of all humanity, to enslave and, as stated in Mein Kampf, to wipe out such peoples as the Negroes and Jews.
Joe Louis, native son of America, was born March 13, 1914, in a cabin on Buckalew Mountain in Alabama. At the age of 12, together with his parents, two brothers and three sisters, he came North.  He had to leave school at the age of 14 to go to work.  And many of the tasks known to young workers were Joe's tasks, delivering ice, selling papers and the like. 
His fight for the championship was not easy.  He had to fight against un-American sports writers who constantly sniped at him with tales that he was "slipping," that he "couldn't take it."  Joe had a tough time of it, fighting both able challengers for his "crown" and also the barriers of discrimination that face any Negro youth.
Joe Louis is an American and proud of it. In spite of every handicap that still hinders him and other Negro Americans from giving their best efforts to the country's defense, Joe eagerly put on the uniform of the United States Army.  Because it symbolizes, with the British Tommy, the Red Army soldier, the Chinese guerilla, the Indian sol-


[[end page]]
[[start page]]

diers, the Ingorots and the Filipinos, everything that we are fighting for.
Joe's fighting for America - for all people.  So that his people can get on a broader scale what he's been battling to get: recognition, equality and fuller participation in the life of the nation as a whole.
Joe knows what he fights for.  As he declared at the all-star show for Navy Relief: "I'm doing what any red-blooded American would." 


Joe Louis is a man of few words.  But he said a mouthful when he declared: "There's a lot of things wrong with America, but Hitler won't fix it."  Joe is right.  Even the thought of what Hitler fascism would mean to our beloved American proves that.
Our country's traditions of constitutional liberty and democratic rights would be lost.  There would be no labor unions, no people's organizations. And all youth would be taught the Nazi brute worship of force and "Aryan" superiority to rebuild everything that youth holds dear. Books would be burned, culture and science destroyed and perverted to work for fascism. 
In the opinion of Hitler, Negroes are "latent brutes."  This pictures vividly what the fate of Negro youth would be in the event of a Hitler victory.  The policies of the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Legion would be the official policies of the government in Washington.  No longer would the great voices of such outstanding Americans as Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson be heard.  No longer would such great literary works as Native Son appear.  Joe Louis would not be able to give the lie to "Aryan" supremacy.
Yes, there are "things wrong with America."  The existence of poll-tax laws, lynchings, discriminatory practices, are shameful blots on our democracy.  But the opportunity to fight to abolish these things and to win victories by so doing is a part of our democracy today.  The destruction of that democracy

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact