Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary Jack Johnson

There is an interesting New York Times editorial on the occasion of the 4th of July also being the 99th anniversary of Jack Johnson's stunning knockout of the "Great White Hope" Jim Jeffries in Reno, Nevada in 1908. The editorial notes:
This landmark moment in the struggle up from slavery still has not been set right in history. Jack Johnson fearlessly personified a kind of uncivil disobedience — an outspoken contumely toward the nation’s racist taboos. He had a gift for taunting hypocrites from outside the ring and inside, where shouted racist slurs only galvanized his boxing arts. His was an amazing form of resistance when Jim Crow lynchings and pro-white sports reporting were standard Americana.

Johnson paid the price three years later when vindictive authorities twisted the Mann Act’s strictures against prostitution to convict him before an all-white jury for having dared to travel with a white woman across state lines. He did a year in prison.

Interestingly enough, Senator John McCain, who could not find it within himself to support the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, is one of the chief sponsors of legislation to pardon Johnson for his misdeeds. Don't want to appear ungrateful but there is a helluva difference between supporting legislation in recognition of MLK and pardoning a former heavyweight champion that the average American never heard of.

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About Me

Alexandria, VA, United States
'To see what is in front of one's nose requires a constant struggle." - George Orwell