April 22, 2009 Leave a comment
In 1908, Jack Johnson (aka Galveston Giant) became the first African-American world heavyweight champion and in 1913, became the first person to be convicted for violating the United States White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910, (better known as the Mann Act), which outlawed the transportation of women across state lines for “immoral” purposes. Many believed that this conviction was racially motivated since he was the first black man to beat a white man in the boxing ring.
Earlier this month, Representative Peter King and Senator John McCain introduced concurrent resolutions calling for the president to “grant a posthumous pardon to John Arthur “Jack” Johnson for the 1913 racially motivated conviction of Johnson, which diminished his athletic, cultural, and historic significance, and tarnished his reputation.”
John McCain’s called the Jack Johnson case, “an ignominious stain on our nation’s history.” He further stated on the floor of the Senate that (Jack) “Johnson was a flawed individual who was certainly controversial. But he was also a historic American figure, whose life and accomplishments played an instrumental role in our Nation’s progress toward true equality under the law. And he deserved much better than a racially motivated conviction, which denied him of his liberty, and served to diminish his athletic, cultural, and historic significance.”