Henry Rodgers, DCNF
President Donald Trump pardoned the first black heavyweight boxing champion Thursday.
Jack Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury in 1913 of transporting a woman across state lines. Johnson was convicted for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, and served close to one year in prison.
The pardon comes after Johnson’s great-great niece had been pushing for a posthumous pardon. Actor Sylvester Stallone was also a huge advocate for Johnson’s pardon and joined Trump in the Oval Office for the pardon announcement.
Johnson was charged due to racially motivated injustice, Trump said and hopes this pardon will help “to correct a wrong in our history,” ABC News reported.
“I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history, and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion, legendary athlete and a person that, when people got to know him, they really liked him and they really thought he was treated unfairly,” Trump said.
“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump continued. “He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time.”
Trump also invited other heavyweight champions to the Oval Office for the announcement including, Lennox Lewis and Deontay Wilder.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has pushed for Johnson’s pardon for years, even introducing legislation requesting for a pardon for Johnson in 2004, which was struck down by former President Barrack Obama.
Johnson’s pardon was met with praise by many, including former heavyweight champion George Foreman.
The last posthumous pardon was done by former President George W. Bush who pardoned Boston-born businessman Charles Winters in 2008.
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