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

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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Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
Murphy Guyer ...
Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
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Other Voices (voice)
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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.


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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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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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

Big Lip Blues
Composed by Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton
Arranged by Wynton Marsalis
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User Reviews

 
Perfect
30 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

What a perfect documentary. What a master Ken Burns is. Unforgivable is the story of the indestructible Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, whose legendary style downed even the toughest white contenders inside the ring, and sent almost every white American into a frenzy of racial contempt for him, outside the ring.

Jack Johnson is such a rich subject; it seems we could never tire of him. He was the rags to riches American dream. He was the champ who repulsed an entire generation of whites - refuting their fundamental belief that blacks were by nature inferior beings. He was the pioneer that paved the way for future black athletes, who had formerly been relegated to Negro leagues. And he was the social trailblazer as well, integrating with whites in unprecedented and often dangerous ways.

Now Burns has reconstructed his life in and outside the ring through this wonderful collection of photos, interviews, film reels and archival documents. In short, I've seen no other documentary that so pungently depicts the black struggle to be accepted, and indeed, free in America.


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