The night it all takes place
All of the action during the play Pullman Porter Blues takes place on June 22, 1937 – the night of the heavyweight championship boxing match between the African American Detroit boxer Joe Louis and New York Irishman James J. Braddock.
Joseph Louis Barrow (May 13, 1914 – April 12, 1981), better known as Joe Louis, was the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, Louis had a reputation as an honest, hardworking fighter. Louis’ championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 26 championship fights.
Why choose that particular night in history? Joe Louis’ knock out win in the eighth round was a huge matter of pride for the African American community. And the fight, like the Panama Limited’s train route, took place in Chicago.
Interest leading up to the match was intense. Some 60,000 fans came from all over the country and distant parts of the world. And when Louis won, he instantly achieved the status of a nationwide hero. He was the first African American boxer to hold the title in twenty-two years.