Commentary: Jack Johnson deserves pardon

April 6, 2009 

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Here's a cause that should unite last year's presidential rivals, John McCain and Barack Obama: Pardon the late, great Jack Johnson.

Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, was convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act. His federal crime was "transporting" a white woman – who later became his wife – across state lines for "immoral purposes." It was a prosecution driven by the undiluted white racism of the early 20th century.

McCain is pressing hard for a presidential pardon for Johnson, who, as fate would have it, died in 1946 at old St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh after a car wreck near Franklinton.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

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