National Archives at Kansas City

Press Release: January 24, 2014

National Archives at Kansas City

Phil Dixon to Dicuss Jack Johnson: Contradictions to History from a Heavyweight Champion’s Unpublished Prison Manuscript

For More Information Contact:
Kimberlee Ried, 816-268-8072

Kansas City, (MO)…On Tuesday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m., the National Archives at Kansas City will host Phil Dixon for a lecture titled Jack Johnson: Contradictions to History from a Heavyweight Champion’s Unpublished Prison Manuscript. A 6:00 p.m. reception will precede the lecture.

Much has been written about America’s first African American heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson. However, we very seldom hear of first-person accounts from Johnson himself. While a prisoner at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in 1921, Johnson attempted to journal his own life’s story and document his highly controversial career in boxing. In Johnson’s handwritten manifesto, penned on prison stationery, he not only explained the inside story of his fights and the boxers he faced; but also outlined his many experiences outside the squared circle, including accounts of Johnson’s personal opinions toward segregation. His is a story the public was never allowed to read, one written in defiance of all that was said against him, then, and now, as the world’s first African American heavyweight champion, unintentional activist and proud American. Dixon will discuss his research on Johnson’s manuscript found within the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary inmate case files at the National Archives at Kansas City.

To make a reservation for this free event call 816-268-8010 or email kansascity.educate@nara.gov.

About the Speaker

Phil S. Dixon, of Kansas City, is revered as a pioneer in the study of Negro Leagues baseball history. For the past thirty years he has recorded the African-American baseball experience with a vast array of skill and accuracy. Creative, innovative and detailed, he has researched baseball teams and documented the careers of Negro Baseball’s greatest players. Widely regarded for his expertise on baseball, in recent years Dixon has expanded to include the world of professional boxing. He has authored nine previous books and has won a Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992, and a Society of American Baseball Research MacMillan Award for his excellence in research. Dixon formerly worked in the public relations department of the Kansas City Royals major league baseball team, and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, an organization which he co-founded in 1990. He is currently working on two boxing books, Tommy Campbell: A Boxing Bout with the Mobsters and Jack Johnson’s Prison Manuscripts.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by nearly 100 Federal agencies. Serving the Central Plains Region, the archives holds records from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The facility is located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108. It is open to the public Tuesday - Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for research, with the exhibits open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 816-268-8000 or visit us online.

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