People look at society and think there is no way segregation existed between African Americans and Caucasians. Periodically, young adolescents hear older African Americans telling them about what their ancestors experienced and what some of them witnessed within the African American culture. In "Champion of the World," author Maya Angelou talks about listening to Joe Louis' fight on the radio. She recalled how much anxiety people had built up over the fight because African Americans had something to prove. In the piece, Angelou suggests that Louis' win symbolizes African Americans' victory as a race while his loss would potentially and unfairly "validate" many Caucasians' claims that African Americans were inferior.
Through the diction she uses, Angelou reveals the bigotry of the era and shows the match represents dignity for African Americans. The language Angelou uses such as, "cracker" and "niggah" signifies the state of the world during that time. Unfortunately, the continuing use of these words encourages behavior typical of the era when Dr. Angelou wrote "Champion of the World." Although the use of these terms is not as frequent in society today, it is a known fact there is the potential to get into a fight when these words are used towards one another. As Joe Louis' fight went on, when he got hit Angelou writes, "it was our people falling. It was another lynching yet another black man on a tree. One more woman ambushed, and raped" (106). She also writes, "it was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful" (Angelou 106). She showed us how little African Americans were of value in the eyes of the white man. She even called the man on the radio "master" when she alludes to the RCA logo, as if she were still in enslaved. .
As the fight went on, Dr. Angelou mentioned how all the smirks and grins were gone after Joe Louis got hit.