McCain Is Leading Fight To Pardon Jack Johnson

I hesitate to brag about how far we’ve come as a society when there’s still things like this going on, but the racial forces that allied against former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson in the early portion of the 20th century really are a collection of rickety, antique notions. Isn’t it high time that Johnson — convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act — was officially pardoned?

Jack Johnson

If you’re not familiar with Johnson’s life and legacy, watching the great Ken Burns PBS special will help. Suffice it to say that he was one of our greatest boxing champions, but unfortunately at a time when it wasn’t popular for a black man to be pummeling white guys. He inspired the term “Great White Hope,” referring to the search for a Caucasian fighter who could beat him. But when it became clear that none could be found, authorities stepped in to stop him in court — on dubious legal charges even for the time. Read more…