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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, ca. 1901. Credit: Culver Pictures.

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        Jack Johnson Defeats Stanley Ketchel | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

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

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        Jack Johnson Battles Al Kaufman | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson fought challenger Al Kaufman on September 9, 1909. Kaufman was one of a series of unsuccessful "White Hopes" seeking to take Johnson's title. Credit: Gary Phillips Collection.

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        Jack Johnson and Etta Duryea | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Full-length portrait of Jack Johnson and his first wife Etta [Duryea], wearing winter coats, ca. January 29, 1910. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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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

        Ring announcer Billy Jordan introducing Jack Johnson World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson, before his fight against Jim Jeffries in Reno, Nevada, July 4, 1910. Billed as the "Battle of the Century, Johnson knocked out Jeffries in the 15th round. Credit: Brown Brothers.

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

        Jack Johnson, ca. 1910-1915. Photo credit: Bain News Service. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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        Jack Johnson Marries Lucille Cameron | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson marries Lucille Cameron (his third wife), 1912. Source: National Archives & Records Administration.

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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, June 19, 1914. [Taken in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Johnson's trainer Tommy Burns stands in the ring, and his manager Sigi Hart is in the background. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division/Granger Historical Picture Archive.

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        Jack Johnson in Boxing Trunks | Ken Burns: Unforgivable Blackness

        Jack Johnson in boxing trunks, March 31, 1915. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

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

        Jack Johnson, ca. 1940. Source: University of Notre Dame Libraries

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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. Photo credit: Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.

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

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

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