Press Releases

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Harry Reid (D-NV) today sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to posthumously pardon John Arthur "Jack" Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight Boxing Champion, who was unjustly convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for transporting a white woman across state line.

Letter attached and below.

 

February 12, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama

The President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing on behalf of the Members of the United States Congress who in 2009 unanimously approved a resolution, S.CON.RES.29, which called for a posthumous pardon for John Arthur "Jack" Johnson. As you are aware, Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight Boxing Champion, was unjustly convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for transporting a white woman across state lines. Last year, on the hundredth anniversary of his unjust conviction, the Senate again unanimously passed a Resolution, S.CON.RES.5, supporting his posthumous pardon.

While we understand it is not a common practice to issue presidential pardons posthumously, it is not unprecedented. We strongly believe that, given the racially-motivated circumstances surrounding Jack Johnson’s case, this conviction should be expunged from his record. Jack Johnson was a tremendous athlete, and his legacy continues to be marred by this miscarriage of justice. A posthumous pardon is long overdue, and would be an important step in repairing the legacy of this great boxer and a rare opportunity for our government to right an historical wrong.

Sincerely,


Harry Reid                                                                 

United States Senator                                                 

John McCain  

United States Senator

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