By: Joe Strupp
The Blade of Toledo, Ohio on Sunday took up the cause of boxer Jack Johnson, urging President Barack Obama to pardon him and detailing his infamous conviction nearly 100 years ago that is seen as a clear case of racism.
Johnson, who died in 1946, was the first African-American to win the world heavyweight boxing title. He was also among the most outspoken black figures of the time, denouncing segregationist policies and raising eyebrows when he married three white women.
One of those marriages led to his conviction on grounds that he violated the Mann Act, which made it a crime to take a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.” He was convicted in 1913 and served 10 months.
His case was brought up earlier this year when Congress passed a resolution urging a pardon for Johnson.
“Racism, not the law, was the obvious motivation for Johnson’s conviction,” the editorial states, later adding, “Issuing a full pardon in this case would do more than clear one long-dead boxer’s sullied reputation. By this act, President Obama would acknowledge that America’s promise of freedom and equality was an illusion for many in the past and the law often was subverted in the cause of injustice.”
The entire editorial can be found here.