Since 2004, Republican Sen. John McCain has pushed for a posthumous pardon for legendary heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. The world’s first Black heavyweight champion flaunted his love of the high life and white women during the time of Jim Crow garnering a charge that his great-great niece wants President Donald Trump to pardon.
In October 1912, Johnson was charged with violating the Mann Act, which made the transport of a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes” a crime. The white woman, allegedly a prostitute, became Johnson’s second wife and refused to cooperate, so charges were dropped. Johnson faced the same charges the following year, and skipped bail, then fled the country for seven years. He began serving his sentence in 1920 and was released the next year.
Johnson continued to box well into his sixties, although many of the fights were nothing more than sideshow exhibitions for Johnson to make money. His life ended tragically in June 1946 after reportedly getting denied service at a Raleigh, North Carolina diner and driving off in a rage before crashing the vehicle.
The pardon for Johnson is something of a long shot with Trump in the White House, although similar efforts in times past did show some promise.
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