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03/09/2013

President Obama needs to pardon this iconic Texan

Jack-JohnsonGranted, President Barack Obama has better things to do with his time but this falls into the category of, "What's the holdup?"

In 1913, heavyweight champion of the world, Jack Johnson of Galveston, Texas, was convicted of violating the Mann Act. The design of the law was to prevent human trafficking of women for prostitution. But Johnson was arrested because he was a black man dating a white woman, and when he took her across state lines racially-motivated authorities had a reason to bust him.

Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion of the world, a title he held from 1908 to 1915. He was Ali before Ali. The conviction of Johnson pretty much killed his career.

This week in Congress three senators - Harry Reid (D-Nevada), John McCain (R-Arizona), William Cowan (D-Mass.) and representative Peter King (R-New York) all called on President Obama to issue a full pardon to Johnson.

Said Sen. McCain in a statement: "Since 2004, Congressman King and I have fought for a posthumous pardon of Jack Johnson, the world’s first African-American heavyweight champion, for his racially motivated conviction. In past years, both chambers of Congress unanimously passed this resolution, but unfortunately, it still awaits executive action and no pardon has been issued. We can never completely right the wrong perpetrated against Jack Johnson during his lifetime, but this pardon is a small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law and celebrating his legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance."

Democrats and Republicans can't normally agree on what time of day it is, let alone any real issue, so pardoning Johnson seems like a no-brainer.

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Comments

Doug Olson

About time.

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