created is overbearingly realistic and, in its setting in the drab lobby of
Cobo Hall, makes Joe Louis looks bored, dwarfed and ignored, everything that
he was not. I am reminded of of the knee jerk reaction to appearance of the
Viet Nam War Memorial, created by an Asian American female artist, when some
veteran groups forced the building of a "realistic" sculpture. Today
millions of veterans and their families file past it with hardly a glance as
they are overwhelmed by the emotion evoked the the simple powerful statement
of a submerged black marble V engraved with the names of their comrades and
So great was Joe Louis that is difficult to measure the historical contribution of this immense figure who, without a close second, is by far the greatest sports figure to ever arise from Detroit and assume center stage on the world theater. It was he who helped shatter the Nazi myth of racial superiority with his dramatic defeat of German champion Max Schmeling during the rise of Nazism. In doing so and then serving his country nobly in the segregated army of World War II, he laid bare the disgraceful hypocrisy that denied Afro American athletes access to the major leagues of American sport, not to mention all Afro Americans who were and are denied the basic birthrights of American citizenship.
He did this with his fists and determination. So it is fitting that he is honored with a place at the center of his hometown with an artwork as powerful and controversial as he was.