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Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson, boxer and world heavyweight champion, Sydney, c.1908
public domain
Jack Johnson, boxer and world heavyweight champion, Sydney, c.1908

Encore Saturdays, Feb. 5 and 12, 2022 at Noon on KPBS 2 / On Demand

"Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson," a two-part film by Ken Burns, chronicles the life and career of boxer Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion and one of the greatest fighters of the 20th century. Johnson ultimately lost his title in a bout in Cuba in 1915, after fleeing the United States following his federal conviction for allegedly violating the Mann Act, a progressive-era law intended to crackdown on commercialized vice but used against Johnson to create an example against, to quote the prosecutor, "the evils of miscegenation."

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson: Preview

About Johnson's Life

On May 24, 2018, 105 years after being convicted of violating the Mann Act, Jack Johnson was posthumously pardoned.

Learn about the Mann Act, which Johnson was arrested under

Follow Johnson's life and career with this interactive timeline

Learn about Johnson's early life and career

Watch On Your Schedule:

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Originally aired in 2005.


A film directed by Ken Burns. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward. Produced by David Schaye, Paul Barnes and Ken Burns. Edited by Paul Barnes (Episode One), Erik Ewers (Episode Two). Cinematograhy: Buddy Squires and Stephen Mccarthy. Original music composed by Wynton Marsalis. Associate Producer: Susanna Steisel. Coordinating Producer: Pam Tubridy Baucom. Narrated by Keith David. Voice of Johnson: Samuel L. Jackson.