Superstar

Athlete

You are the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, but fame and glory have not come easy. As a Black man, you have faced countless acts of discrimination on your way to the top.

A new law has made it illegal for you to travel with your girlfriend, because she is White and you are Black. What will you do? 

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

After the dilemma:

What really happened

     Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was the first Black man to become the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. During his time, boxing was one of the most popular sports in America. 

     Johnson had a larger-than-life personality, and he would often flaunt his riches. He also dated White women. This was acceptable behavior for for White men, but not for Black men during the Jim Crow Era.

 

     In 1910, Johnson defended his heavyweight title against former champion James Jeffries, who was billed as "the Great White Hope." When Johnson won, Black people celebrated in the streets, and White people violently attacked them. 

     In 1912, Johnson was arrested for traveling with a White woman. He fled to Europe, and remained outside of the U.S. for seven years. Upon his return to the U.S., Johnson was forced to serve one year in prison.

 

     After his release from prison, Johnson was past his prime as a fighter. He was never able to regain the championship.

 

     Johnson was a symbol of the American Dream. He worked hard to achieve greatness. Yet, the racist laws of the Jim Crow era were used to prevent Jack Johnson from reaching his full potential as America's first superstar athlete.  

Sources

https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/04/11/300520407/poetic-take-on-black-boxing-lands-punches-with-broad-appeal

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/sports/jack-johnson-racism.html

Keywords

Boxing, Jim Crow, Interracial Marriage, Mann Act

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© 2019 Chris Seeger