Courses/Lectures

Each of the 34 courses available can be enrolled in individually, or in packages.  Each course is an approximately 1-hour session that consists of the opportunity for the students to interact with the associated artifacts, and a discussion exercise tailored for your specific class in accordance with your teacher's curriculum/recommendations.  If the Course List below doesn’t fit your needs, we can work together to develop the presentation you desire – from control of the discussion topics to selection of items to be presented.

Joe Louis: Finally, The Nation's Champ

From the humble beginnings of a sharecropping family from Alabama to the Heavyweight Championship of the World, Joe Louis’ rise gave pride not only to his race, but to the country as a whole.  His accomplishments in the ring helped to break barriers and create opportunities for people of color, while his reign atop the heavyweight division lasted longer than anyone in history.  That said, the path to the top wasn’t easy, nor was life for Louis after boxing – or for the fighters after Jack Johnson that paved the way for Louis to get his shot.  Our collection of items including family photos, help us look closer at his life and role in this country.

 

Artifacts: Original Joe Louis, George Godfrey, Larry Gains, Harry Wills photos, boxing cards, fight tickets, merchandise, newspaper articles, other relevant items

Joe Louis Teaching His Son Joe Jr. to Golf, 1959 - One of more than 30 original photos from the Ring magazine archives, this photo speaks to Joe Louis' complexity.  Besides being one of the greatest boxers of all time, Louis was also owner of a black baseball team, a soldier in the U.S. Army, and an avid golfer, amongst other things.  A little known fact is that, in response to discrimination faced by some of the earliest Black pro golfers, Louis successfully fought to integrate the PGA, becoming one of the first Black golfers to ever participate in an official PGA event.

Advertisement for World's Colored Heavyweight Championship Fight, Aug. 15, 1928 - Since Jack Johnson's defeat to Jess Willard in 1915, no Black boxer was allowed the opportunity to compete for the Heavyweight crown.  Prior to Johnson, there had already been a color line created, which led to the creation of the title of World's Colored Heavyweight Championship.  The last person to hold the title was two-time titleholder Larry Gains, a Canadian born boxer that also became the Heavyweight Champion of the British Empire.  Shown above is an advertisement for his fight against George Godfrey, an African-American heavyweight who was also a two-time holder of the title.  The match ended in a disqualification with Gains emerging as the victory.  After Joe Louis' defeat of James Braddock to win the World's Heavyweight Championship, the title held by Gains ceased to exist.

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