Unforgivable blackness is the boxing documentary movie of Jack Johnson the boxer and first black heavyweight champion. This film sets the standard by which other documentary films should be judged. Another shining gem from director Ken Burns, this piece tells of the tumultuous life of Mr. Johnson who not only upset the boxing world but also daringly pushed all racial boundaries.Born in Galveston, Texas to former slaves he is rumored to have had his first bout at age 15. Joe Joinsky trained him in jail after the two were arrested for fighting, which was illegal in Texas and many other states at the time. From there he went on to capture the attention of the press and all other boxers of the day, weather they wanted to pay attention or not. No white man would give Jack Johnson the boxer a shot at the championship title even though he had more than earned a right simply based on the fact that he was black. He began to follow the current titleholder around the world destroying every man the champ destroyed. He does, eventually, go on to win the championship after much hardship but this is only part of the epic story of Jack Johnson the boxer.
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Jack Johnson drives fast cars, flashes a gold-capped smile and is publicly seen and photographed with white women with whom he slept. He eventually marries a white woman. All these things make him that much more feared in early, racist America. He was convicted under the Mann act in 1913 for transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. He then flees the country to avoid jail while continuing his boxing career abroad. Jack Johnson the boxer continuously pushes the color barrier, haughtily and quite pompously at times. Coupled with the fact that he is a great boxer, who seems almost unbeatable, his presence is overbearing and uncomfortable for many Americans, regardless of their origin.
The fights that Johnson was in, along with many fights of the day are just miraculous and huge. One such fight lasts for 26, yes 26! Rounds. These bouts far overshadow any matches even seen today. This is unbelievable considering there is no “mass media” in the early 1900s compared to what we have today. I won’t tell you how he dies or what happens to the belt. You will have to watch the movie to get that information and so, so much more about Jack Johnson the boxer. It is truly worth every second and at almost 4 hours long, this boxing documentary gives the whole story and then some. It is presented with accompanying music from Wynton Marsalis. Samuel L. Jackson speaks Jack Johnson the boxer’s words while Billy Bob Thornton speaks the words of several snide, racist newspaper articles about Johnson. Other personalities that are interviewed or provide insight in this boxing documentary are Bert Sugar and Stanley Crouch. I highly recommend this one, and with it being this long, pop some popcorn and watch it in two sessions, with minimal distractions.to buy this movie on dvd click here.
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FAMILY WARNING. PARENTS PLEASE READ. In this boxing documentary the “n” word is in heavy use in the movie along with “slut”, “whore”, among others, only quoted here to help you make a decision as a parent. There are also sexual overtones when the movie unforgivable blackness shifts its focus to Jack Johnson the boxer’s choice of bed partners and activities with them. As always, the choice is yours whether or not you should have jr. or the jr. misses around when you watch.
to buy, Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson on dvd click here.
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