Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004)

TV-PG   |    |  Documentary, Biography, Sport


Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (2004) Poster

The story of Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight boxing champion.


8.3/10
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Director:

Ken Burns

Writer:

Geoffrey C. Ward

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24 July 2007 | danval3
7
| Good but not perfect
As the author of a biography about Canadian heavyweight champion Tommy Burns, I can tell you Unforgivable Blackness didn't tell the whole story by portraying Tommy as a racist who had to be badgered into fighting Jack Johnson. Until Tommy Burns came along, all the heavyweight kings had been white Americans who openly drew the so-called 'colour line,' refusing to fight blacks. Tommy, who fought seven African-American boxers on his way up, announced the day that he won the title that he would take on all comers, regardless of race or religion. Among other things, Tommy Burns did the following: * Break the colour line by becoming the first white champ to fight a black boxer (Jack Johnson). * Become the first champ to give a Jewish boxer (Joseph Smith) a crack at the title. * Married a black woman. * Hire two black sparring partners. * Befriend and socialize with black fighter Billy Woods. Tommy Burns was a racist by the standards of 2007, often using the 'n' word in interviews. But by the standards of his era, he was a very progressive individual. And although director Ken Burns doesn't acknowledge it in his otherwise very good film, if it wasn't for Tommy Burns, no one alive today would know or care who Jack Johnson was. Dan McCaffery, author, Tommy Burns: Canada's Unknown World Heavyweight Champion

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Documentary | Biography | Sport

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