Courses/Lectures

Each of the 34 courses available can be enrolled in individually, or in packages.  Each course is an approximately 1-hour session that consists of the opportunity for the students to interact with the associated artifacts, and a discussion exercise tailored for your specific class in accordance with your teacher's curriculum/recommendations.  If the Course List below doesn’t fit your needs, we can work together to develop the presentation you desire – from control of the discussion topics to selection of items to be presented.

Jack Johnson & Company: (Colored) Champions of the World

When he captured the Heavyweight Title, Jack Johnson shook up not only the boxing world, but the social-political landscape of the world as well.  His victories led to race riots, and forced a world to accept that, for a time, the best fighter on the planet was a Black man.  However, Johnson was not alone; there was George Godfrey, Peter Jackson, Joe Jeanette, Sam Langford, Sam McVey, Joe Gans, and many other pioneering Black fighters that carried the torch from the days of Mollineaux to Joe Louis

 

Artifacts: Jack Johnson, Peter Jackson, Sam Langford, Joe Jeanette, Joe Gans, George Godfrey, Frank Craig, Sam McVey, Jim Johnson, George Dixon, The Dixie Kid, Joe Walcott,  boxing cards, magazine articles, and newspaper articles, boxing video clips of Johnson, Joe Gans.

Poster of George Godfrey, One of the First Colored Heavyweight Champions of the World, circa 1900 - Before Jack Johnson became the first African-American to win the World Heavyweight belt, he first held the title of World's Colored Heavyweight Champion.  Developed as a result of the refusal of white champions to fight black fighters once they earned their belts, the Colored Heavyweight title was the only title available to African-Americans prior to 1909, and after Johnson lost the belt to Jess Willard, would be the only title available to African-Americans until Joe Louis grabbed the crown in 1937. One of the earliest to hold the title was George Godfrey, a Canadian who reign as World Colored Heavyweight Champion from 1883 to 1888. After losing the title to Peter Jackson, Godfrey continued to fight into his early 40s, but ultimately passed away at the young age of 48 in 1901, from tuberculosis.

Poster of Sam Langford, circa 1905-1915 - When Jack Johnson defeated Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia to earn the World Heavyweight crown, he was determined to be the only African-American to hold the title.  While he took on all white opponents, he made a concerted effort to avoid fighting Black fighters - and had plenty reason to fear losing his belt.  One of the men he refused to fight as champion was Sam Langford, shown above.  Langford was short, stout, and extremely powerful - along the lines of Mike Tyson in his prime.  He often fought me far taller and heavier, but was fear and respected by all.  Though he didn't get a shot and the title, he fought some classic battles with Joe Jeanette, Sam McVey and other top Black fighters of his day.

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