Louis was born on May 13, 1914 in a ramshackle dwelling on Bell on Chapel Road, located about a 1.6 km (1 mile) off Alabama's Route 50 and roughly 10 km (six miles) north of Lafayette in rural Chambers County, Alabama. Louis was the son of Munroe Barrow and Lillie (Reese) Barrow, the seventh of eight children. He weighed 5.5 kg (11 pounds) at birth. Both Louis's parents were the children of former slaves, alternating between sharecropping and rental farming. Munroe was predominantly African American with some white ancestry, while Lillie was half Cherokee.
Louis spent twelve years growing up in rural Alabama, where little is known of his childhood. He suffered from a speech impediment and spoke very little until about the age of six. Munroe Barrow was committed to a mental institution in 1916 and, as a result, Joe knew very little of his biological father. Around 1920, Louis's mother married Pat Brooks, a local construction contractor, having received word that Munroe Barrow had died while institutionalized (in reality, Munroe Barrow lived until 1938, unaware of his son's fame).
In 1926, shaken by a gang of white men in the Ku Klux Klan, Louis's family moved to Detroit, Michigan, forming part of the post-World War I Great Migration. Joe's brother worked for Ford Motor Company (where Joe would himself work for a time at the River Rouge Plant) and the family settled into a home at 2700 Catherine (now Madison) Street in Detroit's Black Bottom neighborhood.
Louis attended Bronson Vocational School for a time to learn cabinet-making and his mother attempted to get him interested in playing the violin.
Read more about this topic: Joe Louis
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