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Ken Burns on heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and the legacy of racism

After President Donald Trump granted a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson on Thursday, we spoke with filmmaker Ken Burns, who chronicled Johnson’s persona, his struggles and the race relations of his era in the documentary “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.”

Johnson was the first African-American to win the title of heavyweight champion and was jailed in the early 1900s for his relationship with a white woman who would go on to become his wife. Johnson died in 1946 but his case has been kept alive by his great-great niece and several senators.

In the clip above, John Yang spoke with Ken Burns about the challenges Johnson faced as a prominent black athlete and how they still affect the nation today.

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