13 thoughts on “Protest songs on racism in North America

  1. 100 years ago: Black prize fighter Jack Johnson KOs Jim Jeffries

    World heavyweight champion Jack Johnson defeated former champion Jim Jeffries in a title fight in Reno, Nevada on July 4, 1910, which became a major political event in the US.

    Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, fought at the height of the Jim Crow era, when hundreds of blacks were lynched each year in the US and where racial segregation had reached its zenith. Racial thinking, moreover, was a veritable obsession of ruling circles, with a copious literature pondering “race suicide” and the “passing of the great race.” Johnson was not only a great fighter but a showman, who understood and capitalized on such racial fears.

    Jeffries, who as heavyweight champion had refused to fight Johnson, came out of retirement, he declared, “for the white race.” In the event, Johnson sent the former champion, who had never before been defeated or knocked down, to the mat twice before Jeffries’ corner threw in the towel in the 15th round.

    Upon hearing of Johnson’s victory—for which he earned the staggering sum of $100,000—blacks took to the streets across the US. At least 20 were killed by police and white mobs who attempted to shut down the celebrations. A number of cities and towns—with the support of former President Theodore Roosevelt—sought to suppress film footage of the bout.



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