“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Galveston in Galveston County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson Marker image. Click for full size.
By Samuel Collins III, September 17, 2014
1. Jack Johnson Marker

Galveston native Arthur John "Jack" Johnson (1878-1946) was the first African American World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. He grew up in Galveston's East End and honed his fighting skills working on the wharves. During the 1900 storm, Johnson helped his family escape from their home on Broadway. In 1901, he refined his defensive skills with the help of Joe Choynski while in jail for illegal boxing. Johnson won the "Colored World Heavyweight Champion" title in 1903 but was determined to defeat white titleholder Tommy Burns. Though Burns initially refused the match, Johnson pursued him around the world until he finally agreed to fight in Australia in 1908. Johnson's technical knockout in the 14th round led to a search for a "Great White Hope" to retake the title. He defended his title in the 1910 "Fight of the Century" with a knockout of former champion James Jeffries. His victory spawned both riots and celebrations.

In 1912, the U.S. Government indicted Johnson under the Mann Act in an attempt to tarnish him and discourage his interracial relationships. He fled the U.S. and lived in exile for eight years. In 1915, Johnson fought
Jack Johnson image. Click for full size.
2. Jack Johnson
This photograph is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925.
his last important match in Havana, Cuba. Although younger, fitter and taller, Jess Willard needed 26 rounds to knock out Johnson and take the heavyweight title. Johnson finally surrendered to Federal authorities in 1920. While in prison, he obtained two patents. Johnson continued to fight but never again for a title. He spent his later years as an entertainer and exhibition fighter. A car crash on a North Carolina road ended his life at age 68. Johnson, "The Galveston Giant," pursued his ambitions against rigid notions of racial hierarchy in 20th century America. His refusal to submit to the social standards of his time has made him an important figure in the struggle for racial justice.
Erected 2014 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 16682.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsEntertainmentSports.
Location. 29° 17.786′ N, 94° 47.676′ W. Marker is in Galveston, Texas, in Galveston County. Marker is at the intersection of Avenue M and 26th Street, on the right when traveling east on Avenue M. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2601 Avenue M, Galveston TX 77550, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Ursuline Convent in the Civil War (about 700 feet away, measured
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in a direct line); Site of Ursuline Convent and Academy (about 800 feet away); James N. Davis House (about 800 feet away); Sweeney-Royston House (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Moody Home (approx. 0.2 miles away); Quigg-Baulard Cottage (approx. 0.2 miles away); Galveston Garten Verein (approx. ¼ mile away); Ashton Villa, 1859 (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Galveston.
Also see . . .
1. Houston Chronicle article about Jack Johnson Marker program. (Submitted on September 21, 2014, by Samuel Collins III of Hitchcock, Texas.)
2. Jack Johnson article in the Encyclopedia Britannica. (Submitted on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.)
3. Jack Johnson in The Handbook of Texas. (Submitted on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 27, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 21, 2014, by Samuel Collins III of Hitchcock, Texas. This page has been viewed 442 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. Photos:   1. submitted on September 21, 2014, by Samuel Collins III of Hitchcock, Texas.   2. submitted on April 26, 2020, by Jim Evans of Houston, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide view photo of the marker and the surrounding area together in context. • Can you help?
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Jul. 2, 2020