Donald Trump pardons Jack Johnson for Mann Act violation

President Donald Trump center posthumous pardons Jack Johnson boxing's first black heavyweight champion during an event in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Thursday

Column: Jack Johnson's biggest crime was being black

He handed the keepsake pen to Haywood, who said that the ceremony changes the course of history.

"Born in 1878 in Galveston, Texas, to former slaves, Johnson overcame hard circumstances to reach the heights of the boxing world and inspired generations with his tenacity and independent spirit", Sanders said in the statement. Now, 72 years after his death, President Donald Trump has granted the historic champion a pardon.

"Congress has supported numerous resolutions calling for Johnson's pardon", Trump said. Under the Mann Act, authorities were able to target people they wanted for a variety of reasons. "He'd spoken to Trump, and it was a done deal".

Donald Trump has posthumously pardoned the late heavyweight boxer, Jack Johnson. In that earlier interview, all she could do was wink and hint that she had some inside information. "They were so ashamed after being so proud of him", she said. In April, Trump tweeted that he was considering the pardon after talking to Stallone.

"His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial".

"I did not realize and know he was my uncle until I was 12 years old because of the shame that the family carried, and majority took it to their graves", said Linda E. Haywood, Johnson's great-great niece.

Boxer Lenox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone joined the president Thursday as he announced the pardon.

His great-great niece had always been pressing for a posthumous pardon. Sen.

The world champion from 1908 to 1915 remains a legendary figure in boxing, who crossed over into popular culture, due to his style and flamboyance both in and out of the ring.

Jack Johnson

Johnson's cause had attracted a range of supporters, including Senator John McCain and the filmmaker Ken Burns, who made a documentary about the case in 2005 called "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson". He lost his title to boxer Jess Willard in 1915, and in 1920, he returned to the US and served less than a year in prison.

Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder admires the courage and style of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion.

An all-white jury convicted Johnson in 1913 after less than two hours of deliberations, and he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. He served about a year in federal prison and was released in 1921. He died in a North Carolina vehicle accident in 1946.

His great-great niece has pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen.

For a long time, many white boxers refused to take on Johnson for a championship title.

Movie buffs may recall that this epic confrontation was dramatized, with a degree of poetic license, in the 1970 film The Great White Hope starring James Earl Jones (who played a character called Jack Jefferson rather than Jack Johnson).

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented.

"To be able to be here at the Oval office in Washington, D.C., and to experience the ultimate pardon of Jack Johnson is wonderful".

When Haywood returns to Chicago, she plans to meet with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, then head to her great-great-uncle's grave.

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