Seeks Posthumous Pardon for Boxer Johnson
Tribune, January 30, 2005
CHICAGO—Jack Johnson’s cultural
stature has grown in recent months, in large part because of Ken Burns’ new
documentary about the nation’s first African-American heavyweight boxing
Now Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.), himself a boxing
fan, is sponsoring a bill urging President Bush to grant the boxer a
In 1913, Johnson was accused of transporting a woman
across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery.”
Johnson ended up marrying that woman, who was white.
Her mother disapproved of the relationship and accused
Johnson of abducting her daughter. Johnson was sentenced to a year in prison
in what many thought was a racially motivated prosecution.
Jackson, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Rep. Peter
King (R-N.Y.), said Johnson’s conviction “unjustly ruined his career and
destroyed his reputation.”
The House and Senate are expected to pass the bill, and
Bush may be sympathetic to the cause. When he was governor of Texas, he
declared March 31 “Jack Johnson Day” in honor of the Galveston native.
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