Archives: Public Broadcasting System

The unforgiveable blackness of Jack Johnson

May 19, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history.

PBS will broadcast on Jan. 17-18, 2005, a two-part series on Jack Johnson, the heavyweight boxing champion, whose achievements and life shocked the white-dominated society of early 20 th century America. The film is titled “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.” Johnson is the first black man since the era of Reconstruction 30 years before to conquer any part of white society. During that time, African-Americans had been systematically excluded from almost every part of white society in America. They were accepted as servants and occasionally artisans by white but as little else. They were denied education, opportunity and justice. That denial extended to sports, except for boxing, which was after baseball the second most popular sport in the nation. As usual with any of its program, PBS has developed an excellent web site to accompany this program. It is well worth spending some with.