BAD NIGGER!: The National Impact of Jack Johnson by Al-Tony Gilmore

BAD NIGGER!: The National Impact of Jack Johnson

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is less a sports biography than it is a sociological treatise on John Arthur (Jack) Johnson's influence on the race relations of his day. The folk-hero pugilist -- ""one of the most controversial and colorful personalities in American history"" -- was not only boxing's first black heavyweight champion, but a ""bad"" one at that. A nonconformist admired by his people for his willingness ""to fight the system,"" the rebellious Galveston-born boxer set a shocking example by marrying three white women and flaunting the interracial affairs he had with others. Johnson's title-fight win over Jim Jeffries on July 4, 1910, ""had the effect of a second emancipation,"" leading as it did to Southern riots and numerous black-white clashes. Films of the match were later banned and the great black hope himself, a victim of racial prejudice, sentenced to a year in jail for violating the Mann Act. The fighter subsequently fled the country, was dethroned in 1915, and became a wrestler and bullfighter before returning to the U.S. to face a spell in Leavenworth. As a sparring partner of the press and a racily flamboyant image-maker, Johnson, who was depicted in the controversial film The Great White Hope a few years ago, may indeed have been reincarnated in Muhammed Ali. A well-documented, ideologically sound examination of white supremacist attitudes and the backlash Johnson engendered.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1974
Publisher: Kennikat Press