Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Kimberly Porter


In early twentieth-century America, white society used white female purity, psychological and racial pressures, and intense physical violence as methods by which to control the sexual behavior of black men and white women. An exploration of the case study of African American boxer Jack Johnson reveals the use of these tools in the public response to his relationships with three white women: Belle Schreiber, Etta Duryea, and Lucille Cameron. As Johnson challenged white men in the boxing ring, he further challenged their supposed racial superiority through his blatant, public sexual relationships with and marriages to white women. Using legal documents and a variety of Chicago newspapers, this thesis explores black-male-white-female interracial relationships through public perception, touching on issues of legality, sexual autonomy, prostitution, mental disorders, abuse, suicide, race suicide, and lynching.