Maya Angelou

In Maya Angelou’s “Champion of the World” a boxing match affects how African- Americans will be treated in society. The story tells of an important fight between a white man vs. a black man and what the outcome means to an African- American community. To Angelou’s community, the fight is much more than winning or losing a boxing match. It is hope that maybe blacks are as good, as or even better than the whites. When Angelou’s race gets to prove that they are humans and should be treated equal, they come together as a community.

The community comes together to see if they could actually be as good as or better than the people who oppressed them. One black man, Joe Louis affects the entire African-American race, by fighting a white man. If Joe Louis wins, it would be a huge step for the African- American race. It would be another step closer for whites and blacks being equal. By Joe winning, it gives not just the community but the whole race hope that things will get better. But if he loses, then blacks go further away from being equal to whites.

They become what whites want them to be, in slavery, dumb, worthless and ugly. If Joe Louis loses, they still get punished, while also losing pride and hope. The outcome is much more than winning or losing a boxing match, it determines how blacks will be treated. The community is listening to a boxing match that impacts them forever, a social importance. People came together in Maya’s uncle’s store to listen to the only radio for miles around. Even the Christian ladies who would never allow any type of violence was at the store listening.

During the time of the fight, all the differences were forgotten. Everybody at the store comes together as one. They are all hoping for the same thing. The community hopes that maybe a black man can defend his title by beating a white man. That maybe by Joe Louis winning this, then things will get better. To just be there at the store listening to fight was important. The fight represents a long history of racism and discrimination between whites and blacks. Joe Louis falling down symbolizes Angelou’s people falling back into slavery and discrimination.

Every time Joe got hit, the people at the store seemed to feel it. As if the hits were hitting their dreams and accomplishments. When Joe was against the ropes getting hit, it reminded the community of all the struggles they have been through. “My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped. A Black boy whipped and maimed. It was hounds on the trail of a man running through slimy swamps. It was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful. She uses this because this is how it used to be and how she thought it would be if Joe were to lose. This shows how important the boxing match was to them, they had to come as a community. The community was together during the hangings, lynches, rapes and other harmful things. So when they get a chance to be better than people who harm them, they come together. The community represents the whole entire African-American race. The people in the store celebrate Joe Louis victory as their own personal battle.

For Joe Louis to beat the white opponent, it is like proving that the whites are no better than the black race. It was as if the community wanted to win the boxing match to prove that they were better than what they thought they were. When Joe did win, the whole store celebrated. “People drank Coca-Colas like ambrosia and ate candy bars like Christmas” It was big deal to listen to Joe win the fight; he proved to the white people that blacks were worth something. They all came together hoping for victory, for a better future, and to be treated fair by the ones who oppressed them.

When Joe Louis won the fight, he proved to the world that African- Americans were the strongest people in the world. Not what whites said what blacks would be. Joe Louis win symbolizes the strength of the African-American people not just in Angelou’s community but the entire African- American race. When Joe Louis wins the fight not only does he keeps his title as “heavyweight champion of the world”, but he also becomes the African-American’s hero. Joe Louis represented all the “negroes all over the world”, by winning the championship. The community came together to listen and hope for Joe Louis victory.

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