The REAL "Great White Hope" Lived In Rep. Jenkins' District

August 27, 2009 6:30 pm ET — Chris Harris

Last night it was reported that while speaking at a town hall meeting in Hiawatha, KS, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins said: "Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope."

The phrase, of course, has an enormous amount of racial connotations.  As noted by the Chicago Tribune, the phrase originated from the play about a "black boxing champion, Jack Johnson, which chronicles the racial prejudice that led to the pursuit of a 'great white hope' to defeat him."

The Tribune added:

Jenkins denied that she had been speaking in racial terms about the challenge that the party faces with President Barack Obama, the first African-American president, when she evoked the title of a play about opposition toward Jack Johnson, the first African-American to win the heavyweight championship in boxing.

I'm sorry, Congresswoman, but that is starting to seem unlikely.

The REAL "great white hope" was a white boxer by the name Jess Willard. 

Mr. Willard was a resident of St. Clere, KS, which is a mere 27 miles from Rep. Jenkins' hometown of Holton, KS and in the same congressional district she represents in Congress.


Rep. Lynn Jenkins should have known the offensive history of the "great white hope" phrase before tossing it around in a town hall meeting. After all, it originated just down the road.

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