Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner

Thursday, June 28, 7pm – Non-Fiction

Theresa Runstedtler
author of Jack Johnson, Rebel Sojourner: Boxing in the Shadow of the Global Color Line ($34.95 University of California Press)

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.

“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.

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