Donald Trump has conceded a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, boxings firstly black heavyweight champion
Donald Trump has granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s firstly black heavyweight champ more than 100 years after what Trump said numerous feel was a racially motivated injustice.
” It’s my reputation to do it. It’s about time ,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony, where he was joined by former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, current WBC heavyweight title-holder Deontay Wilder and performer Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.
Johnson, who captured the designation in 1908 and protected it with a famed 1910 succes over former champ James J Jeffries in a contest dubbed the Fight of the Century, was regarded as a master of defense and ring generalship.
In 1913, Johnson was imprisoned by an all-white jury of contravening the Mann Act for hauling a woman across government directions for” immoral roles” in a decidedly iffy case.
Duly convicted, Johnson said:” They executed Christ, why not me ?” He then hop-skip bail and went to Europe. In 1920, he returned to the US and sufficed nearly a year in jail.
Known as the Galveston Giant, Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing, who swept over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era.
Johnson died in a gondola crash in North Carolina in 1946, at the age of 68. He has been widely celebrated since, inspiring a seminal jazz rock-and-roll album by Miles Davis and books and cinemas including a 2004 documentary by Ken Burns, Unforgivable Blackness: the Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
His great-great niece had been pressing for a posthumous pardon.
Senator John McCain and former Senate majority leader Harry Reid had also pushed Johnson’s case for years.
” Johnson’s imprisonment forced him into the shadows of bigotry and prejudice, and continues to stand as a stain on our national honor ,” McCain has said.
Posthumous acquittals are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton excused Henry O Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10 th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War, and Bush reprieved Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War imprisoned of violate the US Neutrality Acts in 1949.
Linda E Haywood, the great-great niece, wanted Barack Obama, the nation’s firstly black president, to excuse Johnson, but Justice Department policy says” handling posthumous acquittal petitions is floored in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the mildnes process is better spent on the acquittal and commutation requests of living persons “.
The Justice Department reaches decisions on potential mercies through an application process and frequently makes recommendations to the president. The general DOJ policy is to not accept applications for posthumous excuses for federal sentences, according to the department’s website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past.