U.S President Donald Trump granted a RARE posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion on Thursday, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially-charged conviction.
“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Mr Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.
Mr Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice and described his decision as an effort “to correct a wrong in our history. He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time.”
Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for “immoral” purposes, for travelling with his white girlfriend.
Mr Trump had said previously that Stallone had brought Johnson’s story to his attention in a phone call.
Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing and crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.
He died in 1946. His great-great niece has pressed Mr Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Senator John McCain and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have been pushing Johnson’s case for years.
Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the US Neutrality Acts in 1949.
From The Telegraph