Jack Johnson Pardon – Why Now?

The proposed posthumous pardoning of the black boxing champ raises some questions

One hundred years ago, Jack Johnson, the world’s first black heavyweight boxing champion, was arrested in violation of the Mann Act, a law designed to prevent the transporting of women for prostitution and other immoral acts across state lines. Johnson was traveling with his lover and (second) wife-to-be Lucille Cameron, who happened to be a white woman.

The conviction has since been regarded as an act of outright racism, with several legislators motioning for a presidential pardoning of Johnson, who died in a car crash in 1946. Both Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) have proposed such legislation for several years. Last month, they were joined by senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and William “Mo” Cowan (D-Mass.), who was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick to replace Secretary of State John Kerry until the Bay State’s upcoming special senatorial election on June 25.

Thus far, President Obama has not agreed to pardon Johnson. With the hundred-year anniversary of the champ’s conviction coming up this May, however, some are worried that a pardon, though deserved, could be used to whitewash the legacy of Johnson, and the revolutionary role he played in early twentieth-century American society.

Read on at The Valley Advocate

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