I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings


Maya Angelou

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

Every black person in town is gathered in Momma’s store to listen to the radio coverage of Joe Louis’s fight. Joe Louis is a black boxer who is one match away from being heavyweight champion. They follow the fight with their hearts and souls—they groan when Joe is hit, they cheer when Joe succeeds. Finally Joe is crowned champion, and there is unrestrained rejoicing and revelry. But those who live far away from the store must find accommodations nearby for the night—because it would be dangerous to be a black person walking alone in the dark on the night Joe Louis beat a white man to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
Note how even a triumph in the black community is tainted by fear and racism: the revelers cannot walk home because Joe Louis’s victory brings with it the threat of danger and violence.
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