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Trump Does What Obama Wouldn't, Pardons Black Boxer

Jack Johnson's is just the 3rd posthumous presidential pardon in history
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2018 12:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump has granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing's first black heavyweight champion more than 100 years after what Trump said many feel was a racially motivated injustice. Jack Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral" purposes. The white woman in question was with Johnson by choice, and eventually married him, Newsday reported in a look at Johnson's case last month that declared Johnson "was essentially convicted of living as an unapologetically free African-American man." Trump was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone as he announced the decision, the AP reports.

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Johnson is a legendary figure in boxing, who crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries following the civil rights era. (There's a new stage play about him in Cleveland.) He died in 1946. His great-great niece had been pressing for a posthumous pardon. Sen. John McCain and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had also pushed Johnson's case for years. It was Stallone who got in touch with Trump to push him on the issue. Vox calls Trump's pardon "a rebuke to Obama," whose administration more than once considered, but ultimately rejected, pardoning Johnson. Johnson is just the third person to be posthumously pardoned by a US president, USA Today reports.

(Read more President Trump stories.)

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