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

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

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Won 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Johnson ...
Himself (archive footage)
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Narrator (voice)
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Jack Johnson (voice)
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Murphy Guyer ...
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They couldn't knock him out, so they tried to tear him down.


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Details

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Release Date:

17 January 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Er wollte kein Sklave sein  »

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| (DVD)

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Did You Know?

Quotes

Jack Johnson: I have found no better way in avoiding race prejudice than to act with people of other races as if prejudice did not exist.
See more »

Connections

Features The Birth of a Nation (1915) See more »

Soundtracks

Levee Low Moan
Composed by Wynton Marsalis
Arranged by Ken Burns
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User Reviews

 
Good but not perfect
24 July 2007 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

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


11 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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