Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line

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9780520280113: Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line
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In his day, Jack Johnson―born in Texas, the son of former slaves―was the most famous black man on the planet. As the first African American World Heavyweight Champion (1908–1915), he publicly challenged white supremacy at home and abroad, enjoying the same audacious lifestyle of conspicuous consumption, masculine bravado, and interracial love wherever he traveled. Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner provides the first in-depth exploration of Johnson’s battles against the color line in places as far-flung as Sydney, London, Cape Town, Paris, Havana, and Mexico City. In relating this dramatic story, Theresa Runstedtler constructs a global history of race, gender, and empire in the early twentieth century.

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"Theresa Runstedtler traces Jack Johnson’s fabulous, furious, iconic life across five continents and through four paradigms (race, masculinity, imperialism, and popular culture), setting a formidably high bar in the emerging genre of transnational biography. Jack Johnson: Rebel Sojourner is a groundbreaking achievement.”―David Levering Lewis, author of W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race

“This is a brilliantly researched and original study of the transnational career of the black American boxer Jack Johnson. In lucid and engaging prose, Theresa Runstedtler traces Johnson’s travels across multiple continents, showing how Johnson’s life serves as a cultural compass for the intersecting worlds of American, British, and French empire and ideas of race at the turn of the last century. This marvelous contribution to the burgeoning literature on the popular culture of imperialism and transnationalism will find a wide and appreciative audience among scholars of empire, American history, and African American studies.”―Kevin Gaines, author of American Africans in Ghana: Black Expatriates in the Civil Rights Era.
“Theresa Runstetler's Jack Johnson: Rebel Sojourner is one of the two or three most important books on race and sports I have read in the last ten years. It shows that Jack Johnson's impact on black-white relations, during the years of his exile, was at least as great in countries outside the United States as it was domestically. When he fought outside the US, Johnson became a model of power and agency for colonial peoples seeking liberation, and an object of exotic fascination and aversion for whites trying to maintain their power in a changing world. It is a brilliantly researched and innovative work that forces the reader to look at race in countries like France and Mexico in a completely different way.” ―Mark Naison, Professor of African American Studies and History, Fordham University
“Theresa Runstedtler has created a wonderfully thoughtful and sophisticated exploration of the impact of Jack Johnson’s storied boxing career in the context of Western imperialism of the early twentieth century. The author provides a fascinating and broad picture of the international implications of Johnson’s success as the world’s first black heavyweight champ. His fame inspired colonized people from Fiji to Jamaica to India. Western imperialists conversely grew alarmed at Johnson’s popularity and success. Ultimately, this book is a welcome addition to the study of how itinerant black workers who left the U.S. contributed to transnational resistive politics in Europe, Latin America, Australia, Asia, and Africa. None was as popular as Jack Johnson, who reigned not only as heavyweight champ, but was the most salient example of the intersection of defiance to global white supremacy in the space of sport and entertainment.” ―Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar, author of Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap

About the Author:

Theresa Runstedtler is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Buffalo.

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9780520271609: Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line

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