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Jack Johnson was the first African American world champion boxer (1908 - 1913). Throughout most of his life he was the subject of racial abuse. Many people did not come to the arena to see him fight, but rather to see him lose to a white man. Johnson died in a car accident on June 10, 1946, at the age of 68.

In what is often cited as a Christian nation, we would expect people to embrace people of all colors, races, religions, etc. Alas, this is not the case. At the end of the film we find Jackson sitting in the corner of a boxing ring. Obviously, he has died and gone to heaven. A woman's voice asks him: "Most people come to rest. What are you still doing here?" She means, "Why are you still in the ring?" To which Johnson replies: "Some battles are never over." It continues to be an important message, for a racially divided America.

William L. Blizek

University of Nebraska at Omaha,

Author Notes

William Blizek is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Religion and Film, and is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is also the editor of the Continuum Companion to Religion and Film (2009).

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Title Annotation:Article 18
Author:Blizek, William L.
Publication:Journal of Religion and Film
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Apr 1, 2019
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