Interview with Edwin Pope

OK, give me that Joe Louis story anytime.


I grew up in Athens, Georgia and I was about 11 years-old when Joe Louis won the heavyweight championship. He was really my first sports idol even though back then you couldn't see your sports idols. There was no television and, ah, in the late 1930s. All you had was radio and you had to use your imagination. He was- Joe Louis was also my father's idol. And I felt that this was a, my father and I really didn't do a whole lot of things together. He was a very quiet, withdrawn man, but I felt that this was a real bond that I had with my father. Every time Joe Louis fought, we'd be in front of that old Philco radio, punching and rooting for Joe Louis. But then as soon as I got out of the University of Georgia and went to work for United Press in Atlanta, I had my picture taken with Joe Louis, ah, at the Atlanta Airport. That was about 1948 and he was doing a series of exhibition fights. I was very proud of that picture. I took it back over to our old home in Athens, Georgia and showed it my father and he hit the ceiling. Ah, I really couldn't understand it but he took violent ob- exception to my having my picture taken with a Black. And we went around and around about it and it took a long time to get this settled. I had to try to remember, how my father grew up and he had to try to realize I think that times were changing. And it was very difficult for both of us. I think that was really the first, ah, I was 18 years old by then, 20 years old when I got out of college, and I think that was really the first sense I ever had of any racism in sports or out of sports.