Brash courage & Flamboyance Personified

Unstoppable Jack Johnson driving with chains through unplowed snow with a white wife and a fighting bulldog by his side.
Unstoppable Jack Johnson driving with chains through unplowed snow, a white wife and bulldog (pit bull terrier in today’s parlance) by his side.

Jack Johnson, was a man to write home about.  A man of incredible courage, he not only defeated all comers in the ring, he staunchly remained his edgy flamboyant self at a time when lynching was a common.  He shrugged off multiple death threats.  At a time when making an off-hand remark to a white woman could get a black man killed, Johnson dated and married whites.  His response to open hatred was often a smile and a taunt in reply.

One of my favorite Johnson stories, which I’ll paraphrase from Geoffery C. Ward’s comprehensive book, Unforgivable Blackness, The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson, involved Johnson’s penchant for speeding in fast cars.  The champion could afford the fastest, most expensive cars and whites were often jealous.  As a result, he was given many speeding tickets, outrageously unjust ones at times.  But many tickets were deserved.  Johnson drove like a bat out of hell.johnson_with_carPulled over by one officer for racing through town he was assessed a fifty dollar ticket, a huge sum early in the century. He leafed out a one hundred dollar bill from his wad of cash and the officer responded that he could not make change. Unperturbed Johnson, if I remember the quote correctly, allegedly replied, “Keep da change, ’cause I plans on speedin’ on my way back.

Forever cocky, Johnson clamps on a cigar and fills his suit in all the right places.

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