Johnson’s New Negro Attitude

During a time when racial tension ran as high as ever, Johnson broke every stereotypical mold meant to shape and limit him, and, as a result, he arguably created one of his own. Johnson refused to succumb to any notion of white superiority or to the forcefulness of segregation. He was boastful; he showed no regret or even considered cowardice when knocking out white people—the blatant oppressors of himself and so many more—with the world of his audience.

“The search for the ‘white hope’ not having been successful, prejudices were being piled up against me, and certain unfair persons, piqued because I was champion, decided if they could not get me one way they would another.” —Jack Johnson

In how he carried himself, he never meant to be a political figure. However, Johnson’s view of himself was one charged by pride, vanity and self esteem, much of America inevitably saw him differently than he saw himself, yet he never shied away from being his true self.

His image was one tarnished by white Americans, which caused his prevalence to never amount to same kind of the artistic value as others, he was poetic and raw in his genuinity. And, certainly, he was imperfect, causing various opinions among his own people, but imperfection is no criteria for anything. Johnson wore his audaciousness and his blackness on his chest for the world to see. He was feared because he was fearless.