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American Experience is TV's most-watched history series and brings to life the compelling stories from our past that inform our understanding of the world today.
June 22, 1938. Though the Great Depression rages and war looms, the eyes of the world are on Yankee Stadium in New York where, beneath threatening skies, German Max Schmeling and American Joe Louis are squaring off for the heavyweight championship of the world. More than 90,000 people crowd the stadium to watch the encounter, and countless millions more — the largest radio audience in history — listen in around the world to what one commentator would call "two minutes and four seconds of murder."
The pressure on each fighter is enormous. Joe Louis is not only fighting for the honor of the country; he is quite literally holding the hopes of all of black America in his fists. For Max Schmeling, the fight will be a demonstration of Hitler's racial theories, and should the German lose, many fear for what could happen to him. Theirs was a rivalry that would draw in two nations inching closer to war and take the measure of two men who had been fighting all their lives.
The Fight explores the famous 1938 heavyweight bout and finds two men who, in the shadow of war, became reluctant symbols of equality and supremacy, democracy and fascism.
Was it an act of honor or revenge for a crime never committed? In the waning days of summer 1931, Honolulu's tropical tranquility was shattered when a young Navy wife made a drastic allegation of rape against five nonwhite islanders. What unfolded in the following days and weeks was a racially-charged murder case that would make headlines across the nation, enrage Hawai'i's native population, and galvanize the island's law enforcers and the nation's social elite. Retitled as "The Island Murder," it aired again on April 17, 2018.
On April 17, 2018, American Experience aired "The Massie Affair" again as "The Island Murder."
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