Jack Johnson at Auto Race
African American heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, drove up to Milwaukee from his home in Chicago to watch the Vanderbilt Cup race on October 2, 1912. A number of unidentified people are gathered around him as he and another man (both wearing goggles) lean against a car (probably Johnson's).
Image ID: 38376
Creation Date: 1912-10-02
Creator Name: Taylor, J. Robert
City: West Allis
Collection Name: Taylor, J. Robert : Photographs, 1898 - 1930
Original Format Type: photographic print, b&w
Original Format Number: PH 2677
Original Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.5 inches
A brief note about the October 2 race appeared in the Milwaukee Journal on 3 Oct 1912: "JACK JOHNSON IS AUTO BUG - Jack Johnson, champion heavyweight of the world, was a visitor in the city yesterday, driving up here in a powerful racing car and taking in the races. Johnson was given a reception when recognized by the crowd in the stands. Johnson looks quite heavy now, but he claims to be in fair shape. He appears to weigh in the neighborhood of 250 pounds. The champion will remain over for today's races, but expects to return to Chicago tonight."
The American Grand Prize (later called the Grand Prix) was also held in Milwaukee, on October 5th.
Additional context from Geoffrey C. Ward, author of Johnson's 2004 biography "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson":
Despite Johnson's evident good cheer, his world was crumbling around him. His first wife had died less than three weeks earlier. Two days later, the police would sweep through the Levee [in Chicago] and arrest several of his friends, including the saloon- and brothel-keeper Roy Jones. (The man with the goggles fits Jones' description and they often traveled together in the Chicago area, but I can't be sure.) The day before the picture was taken, a driver was killed [David Bruce-Brown]. Johnson and friends presumably saw Ralph De Palma win the race on the second [of October]. Johnson was still in Milwaukee on October 7.
On October 17, Mrs. F. Cameron-Falconet, the Milwaukee woman who accused Johnson of seducing her daughter, Lucille, went to the Chicago police and lodged the case that led to his flight and exile [to Europe].
Clothing and dress
RIGHTS AND PERMISSIONS
This image is © copyrighted property of Journal Sentinel Inc. and is provided by the State Historical Society subject to contract. Use of the image requires written permission from the staff of the Division of Library-Archives. It may not be sold or redistributed, copied or distributed as a photograph, electronic file, or any other media. The image should not be significantly altered through conventional or electronic means. Images altered beyond standard cropping and resizing require further negotiation with a staff member.
Please Credit: Wisconsin Historical Society
Location: Wisconsin Historical Society Archives, 4th Floor, Madison, Wisconsin
How to View in Person
To view this image, visit the Archives Research Room on the 4th floor at the Society Headquarters building in Madison, WI. Print out this index page and present it to the librarian. Use the links below to plan your visit to the Society's Archives.
Checking Out Materials
Visual materials in the Archives do not circulate and must be viewed in the Society's Archives Research Room.
How to Cite
For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model:
- Wisconsin Historical Society Citation
- Wisconsin Historical Society, Creator, Title, Image ID. Viewed online at (copy and paste image page link).
- Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research Citation
- Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, Creator, Title, Image ID. Viewed online at (copy and paste image page link).
Contact our Archives staff by email.