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        Images from the Life of Jack Johnson | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        View images of Jack Johnson, actor James Earl Jones, who played Jack Johnson in the film, “The Great White Hope,” boxer Muhammad Ali, and more. Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World. His success triggered race riots, racial debates, and tension during the Jim Crow era, as Johnson dominated the sport of boxing. The white community sought a “great white hope” to beat Johnson and found it in retired boxer Jim Jeffries. The “Battle of the Century” took place between the men on July 4, 1910, in Reno, Nevada. It ended with a TKO in the 15th round, with Johnson maintaining his title.

        Jack Johnson Promotional Photo | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson, 1901. Credit: Gary Phillips Collection.

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        Marty Cutler and Jack Johnson in the Ring | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Boxers Marty Cutler and Jack Johnson in the ring with Burns, the referee. Credit: The Library of Congress.

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        Jack Johnson in a Bowler Hat | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson, 1940.

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        Jack Johnson in a Boxing Pose | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson, 1901.

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        Jack Johnson in Boxing Trunks | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson in boxing trunks, 1915. Credit: The Library of Congress.

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        Jack Johnson Portrait | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson. Credit: The Library of Congress.

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        Muhammad Ali Strikes a Pose | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Muhammad Ali poses in front of a marquee advertising "The Great White Hope" at the Alvin Theatre in New York, 1968.

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        James Earl Jones in "The Great White Hope" | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        James Earl Jones as Jack Jefferson in "The Great White Hope."

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        Jack Johnson Battles Al Kaufman | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        World Heavyweigth Champion Jack Johnson battles challenger Al Kaufman, one of a long string of unsuccessful "White Hopes" seeking to take his title. September 9, 1909. Credit: Gary Phillips Collection.

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        Jack Johnson and Etta Duryea | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson and his wife, Etta Duryea, stand in their winter coats, 1910. Source: The Library of Congress.

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        Jack Johnson Marries Lucille Cameron | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson marries Lucille Cameron, 1912.

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        Jack Johnson Defeats Stanley Ketchel | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson defeats "The Michigan Assassin," Stanley Ketchel. October 16, 1909. Credit: Brown Brothers.

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        Jack Johnson Driving | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson, an African-American pugilist, sits in the driver's seat of an automobile in Chicago, Illinois, 1910. Credit: Chicago Daily News, Inc.

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        World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Johnson | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        World Heavyweight Champion, Jack Johnson, before his fight against Jim Jeffries in Reno, Nevada. July 4, 1910. Credit: Brown Brothers.

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