One of the most important figures in black history was a civil rights leader named W. E. B. Du Bois. He was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and had the duty of editing their monthly magazine, which was a publication entitled "The Crisis."
W. E. B. Du Bois
Where does the unusual title of the documentary come from?
He wrote in "The Crisis" once in 1914 about an African-American boxer named Jack Johnson, who was the first person of this background to become boxing's "Heavyweight Champion of the World." Here is the quote that the title of this Ken Burns film comes from:
W. E. B. Du Bois
It comes from a quote by a civil rights leader named W. E. B. Du Bois, which is as follows:
"Boxing has fallen into disfavor ... The reason is clear: Jack Johnson ... has out-sparred an Irishman. He did it with little brutality, the utmost fairness and great good nature. He did not 'knock' his opponent senseless ... Neither he nor his race invented prize fighting or particularly like it. Why then this thrill of national disgust? Because Johnson is black. Of course some pretend to object to Johnson's character. But we have yet to hear, in the case of White America, that marital troubles have disqualified prize fighters or ball players or even statesmen. It comes down, then, after all to this unforgivable blackness." - W. E. B. Du Bois, in "The Crisis" (1914), with emphasis added
The film's title is thus easy to misconstrue as pro-racist (when, in fact, it is the opposite)
With the background established for the title of this film - which is easy to misconstrue, when taken out of context - I will now launch into my review of this film, and talk about this important person from the history of Black America.