In 1979 Joe Louis was there as the Joe Louis Arena was named in his honor. Now that arena has been replaced by Little Caesar’s Arena and is facing demolition.
On Friday relatives of the Detroit Boxing Legend flew from around the country to the city for the announcement of a plan to make sure his legacy lives on.
Taking a look at who Joe Louis was, he was born in 1914. His parents were the children of former slaves. He lived in rural Alabama until he was twelve. Then his family, to escape a KKK gang, moved to Detroit.
In Detroit he learned to box. He became world heavyweight champion in 1937. In 1938, as the Nazi movement gained power he defeated a German boxing star, and became a national hero. He reigned as the world heavyweight champion until 1949.
“It is important to know that someone, back then, when it was ten-times harder, could still persevere through anything,” said Nia Barrow Henderson, Joe Louis’ granddaughter.
“Understand that he was a black man who came up and was admired by rich, poor, white, black, Jews, and Gentiles. He came along at a time this country needed a hero. And Joe Louis was that hero,” said Joe Louis Barrow, Jr., his son.
His family says that is what they want people to remember about Joe Louis. He put the people first and blazed a path. So, it is appropriate that the City of Detroit is planning a 26-mile path that will be called the Joe Louis Greenway.
It aims to connect communities such as Highland Park, Ferndale, Dearborn, and Hamtramck to Detroit.
“We were really bummed the arena was going to come down, but we think this is so much better,” said Candice Joseph, Louis’ daughter.
“I think he would be grateful that it is bringing communities together. I think he is looking down, bringing people together,” said Nia.
If all goes as planned construction of the path is expected to begin in 2020.