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Free At Last | A Century Later, The First Black Heavyweight Champion Of The World Is Pardoned Posthumously
A century later, a deserving man has been pardoned and his memory and reputation set free.
Thanks to all of those who worked so hard for this day to come, the day Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, was pardoned for the crime of defying the laws and taboos of Jim Crow and American apartheid.
Johnson was convicted in 1913 of transporting a white woman - his girlfriend, whom he married - across state lines "for immoral purposes."
He eventually served 10 months in federal prison. His spirit, however, stayed forever free.
As legend goes, a police officer once stopped Johnson for speeding and issued him a $50 ticket. Johnson handed the officer a $100 bill, telling him to keep the change because he planned to return on the same road.
President Trump should be commended for issuing the long overdue pardon. But the struggle to clear Johnson's name has been long and bipartisan. My son, former U.S. congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as former Democratic Senator Harry Reid, Republican Senator John McCain, writers, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, movie stars such as Samuel L. Jackson and Sylvester Stallone, and many others have pushed for the iconic champion to be pardoned.
Yet no one has worked harder for this day than Johnson's great-great niece, Linda Haywood of Chicago.
Over the years, she kept getting knocked down by rejection and indifference to her mission to clear her uncle's name.
Each time she got right back up and returned to the ring. She knew what Jack Johnson knew. The ground is no place for a champion.
January 2017: No Obama Pardon For Boxer Jack Johnson, And Now His Family Has Lost Hope.
"The Tribune examined a transcript of the trial at the National Archives and Records Administration's Chicago branch. The documents show how Johnson confronted his accusers, particularly under questioning from Asst. U.S. District Atty. Harry Parkin and the defendant's own attorney, Benjamin Bachrach . . . "
Jack Johnson in the Beachwood:
* On Joe Louis, Race And How Society Treats Its Sports Heroes.
Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries, 1910.
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