Did Detroit’s Joe Louis fist punch Borglum’s Lincoln head in the nose?

Runaway Slave/Underground Railroad Statue on Detroit's riverfront

Runaway Slave/Underground Railroad Statue on Detroit's riverfront

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detroit's broken nosed Lincoln head sculpture

Detroit's broken nosed Lincoln head sculpture

I was standing surveying the the Abraham Lincoln head sculpture located along Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit. The nose had been damaged by vandals and repaired afterward. I have been informed that a sculptor from Italy was hired to reconstruct the original nose as Gutzon Borglum had fashioned it. Somehow the cement used to glue the nose in place has become discolored. I’ve written about this in previous posts. It looks just terrible. “Not a way to treat Mr. Lincoln,” I thought.
In a whimsical moment I fantasized that maybe the fist of Joe Louis had punched Lincoln in the nose and broke it. Why would Mr. Louis have been so irate with Lincoln?
 
Sculpture of Joe Louis fist (from Strangecosmos.com)

Sculpture of Joe Louis fist (from Strangecosmos.com)

Seriously, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that just a few hundred feet away from the Lincoln head sculpture, stands the Runaway Slave/Underground Railroad Sculpture. The figures of the runaway slaves are quite compelling. They are facing Canada. One senses that they have struggled a long way to get to that point in Detroit along the river via the Underground Roalroad. Perhaps many of those that started the journey had been captured or killed. All the drama is represented in the statue. How ironic that the sculpture of the person most responsible for the freedom of the slaves sits a few hundred feet away waiting for repair that never comes. I find it highly disrespectful.
No, it wasn’t Joe Louis that broke Lincoln’s nose. It was some vandal who actually had to use a ladder to get up to the height of the Lincoln head sculpture and with much planning blemish that beautiful work of art. I don’t know if the person had a personal hatred for Lincoln. He may have not had any feeling for Lincoln. Who can know the mind of such an individual? All I know now is that Detroit had a most wonderful opportunity in the celebratory year of Lincoln’s 200th birthday-and in the year that an African-American was elected President of the United States-to make things right for the statue and the memory of Lincoln-and they “blew it.”
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4 Responses to “Did Detroit’s Joe Louis fist punch Borglum’s Lincoln head in the nose?”

  1. K. Nash-Palmer says:

    Oh, really? How did I miss those references? Sorry!

  2. B. Nash says:

    Yes, I saw the movie-the first one. In fact a couple of my postings refer to it. Glad you enjoyed this post.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    The vandalization of public works of art is certainly not new. However, for someone to bring a ladder to the sculpture with the intention of damaging it is pretty brazen.

  4. K. Nash-Palmer says:

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I read this! That is quite the imagination. Have you seen the Night at the Museum movies with Ben Stiller? He’s a security guard for the midnight shift at a museum. At night, all the statues come alive and cause mischief! Your story reminds me of this. Maybe, just maybe, the fist DID punch Abe out!

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