In this vivid biography Geoffrey C. Ward brings back to life the most celebrated — and the most reviled — African American of his age.
Jack Johnson battled his way out of obscurity and poverty in the Jim Crow South to win the title of heavyweight champion of the world. At a time when whites ran everything in America, he took orders from no one and resolved to live as if color did not exist. While most blacks struggled simply to exist, he reveled in his riches and his fame, sleeping with whomever he pleased, to the consternation and anger of much of white America. Because he did so the federal government set out to destroy him, and he was forced to endure prison and seven years of exile. This definitive biography portrays Jack Johnson as he really was--a battler against the bigotry of his era and the embodiment of American individualism.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (Vintage)|
|Release Date: 08-04-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Group E-Books|
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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson (Vintage)
Chapter OneThe Pure-Blooded American
In the spring of 1910, Halley's comet returned to the heavens after an absence of seventy-five years. Some believed it a sign from God that the world was about to end. Nearly everyone saw it as a momentous event, and during the week of May 18, when astronomers predicted the earth would pass through the comet's tail, adults and sleepy children all over the country stumbled out of their homes at night to see if they could get a glimpse of it.
On the Lower East Side of New York, thousands of tenement dwellers, mostly immigrants and their families, filled the streets to peer up at the cloudy skies, while on the roof of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel uptown, Speaker of the House Joseph G. Cannon led two hundred tuxedoed guests attending the annual dinner of the National Association of Manufacturers in a champagne toast to the comet's passing. In Memphis, Tennessee, separate all-night revivals were held for white and black believers awaiting Judgment Day. In Chicago, panicked householders blocked their doors and windows against deadly gases they believed the comet would release.
And early one morning, at the fashionable Seal Rock House on Ocean Beach at San Francisco's western edge, guests and staff members alike gathered on the sand beneath the stars, listening to the rhythm of the surf and waiting to chart the comet's brilliant course above the sea.
But the hotel's most celebrated guest-the most celebrated black man on earth-remained in bed in his suite on the second floor. A member of his entourage had slipped up the stairs a few minutes earlier and tried to rouse him, but the heavyweight c...