Jack Johnson in Indianapolis - 1909

This image first appeared in the November 21, 1909, Indianapolis Star. It was taken during the visit of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight world boxing champion, to Indianapolis. Johnson is seen with his then-manager George Little who had been negotiating for weeks with the city's Empire Theater to bring the champion there for a personal appearance. The two are seen in front of a car that was provided to them by the Marion Automobile Company, a local car manufacturer. Johnson was an automobile and racing enthusiast, very knowledgeable about mechanics and motorsport.
Johnson was reportedly speeding around the local country roads but did was not cited for violating any posted limits. Despite folklore, Johnson was not invited to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway nor was he the first black man to turn a lap around the course. His pending opponent in a much-anticipated matchup, Jim Jeffries, the undefeated former champion who came out of retirement to battle Johnson, also visited the Hoosier capital a week later and was welcomed to the Speedway. He was taken on laps around the newly paved Brickyard by track President Carl Fisher and given a tour of the facilities aerodrome for airplanes and balloons.
The original caption to this photo reads as follows:
"Jack Johnson, champion colored heavyweight pugilist of the world, who spent last week in Indianapolis, drove a Marion racing car while he was in the city. The car was the same speed machine that has been entered in speed contests by the Marion Motor Car Company. Johnson was enthusiastic over the speed of the little car."

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