Cover: The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka
West Branch
West Branch Meeting Room A
Thursday, March 21 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm
The child of emancipated slaves, Jack Johnson fought violent segregation and the racism of white America during the era of Jim Crow to become the first African American heavyweight boxing champion of the world. In The Big Smoke, poet Adrian Matejka uses the voices of Johnson and the many white women that he loved to examine Johnson's complicated legacy: his childhood in poverty, his flashy personality and wealth, his brutal relationships with his lovers and his pinnacle match against the former undefeated world heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries in Reno, Nevada.