Thesis

Jack Johnson: public enemy number one

On December 26 1908, to the disdain of white Americans, an African American pugilist captured the laurels of the heavyweight championship of the world. Becoming the seventh heavyweight champion in modern history and more significantly setting the precedent as the first black heavyweight champion, John Arthur Johnson, shattered the glass ceiling of a segregated sport within a segregated nation. What ensued next was a desperate search to find a white boxer to defeat Johnson and recapture the championship back into the possession of the white race, an endeavor labeled as the search for the ‘Great White Hope.’ Once the greatest of white hopes, James Jeffries, was defeated by Johnson, a war was waged against Johnson, leading to anti-Johnson sentiments and race rioting. This anti-Johnson crusade was burning across the nation while mainstream newspapers were fanning flames to their respective demographics. 
 This thesis investigates through the diverse lens between leading mainstream newspapers and Afro-American newspapers, within three metropolitan cities: New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago, the elements used within articles to propagate fear, racial discord, anti-Jack Johnson sentiments among other ill natured acts, while observing the rebuttal of Afro-American newspapers.
 This study will examine and conclude why the nation invested such a keen interest in the Jack Johnson – Jim Jeffries battle, that it was hailed as the ‘Fight of the Century.’ As well as document, why race rioting broke out among numerous cities across the nation, and the roles played by each respective media, mainstream newspapers and Afro American newspapers.

Thesis (M.A., History) -- California State University, Sacramento, 2010.

On December 26 1908, to the disdain of white Americans, an African American pugilist captured the laurels of the heavyweight championship of the world. Becoming the seventh heavyweight champion in modern history and more significantly setting the precedent as the first black heavyweight champion, John Arthur Johnson, shattered the glass ceiling of a segregated sport within a segregated nation. What ensued next was a desperate search to find a white boxer to defeat Johnson and recapture the championship back into the possession of the white race, an endeavor labeled as the search for the ‘Great White Hope.’ Once the greatest of white hopes, James Jeffries, was defeated by Johnson, a war was waged against Johnson, leading to anti-Johnson sentiments and race rioting. This anti-Johnson crusade was burning across the nation while mainstream newspapers were fanning flames to their respective demographics. This thesis investigates through the diverse lens between leading mainstream newspapers and Afro-American newspapers, within three metropolitan cities: New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago, the elements used within articles to propagate fear, racial discord, anti-Jack Johnson sentiments among other ill natured acts, while observing the rebuttal of Afro-American newspapers. This study will examine and conclude why the nation invested such a keen interest in the Jack Johnson – Jim Jeffries battle, that it was hailed as the ‘Fight of the Century.’ As well as document, why race rioting broke out among numerous cities across the nation, and the roles played by each respective media, mainstream newspapers and Afro American newspapers.

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