The effort to gain a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson took a major step this week with the support of Sen. John McCain R., Az). The conviction of Johnson for a 1913 Mann Act violation was a disgrace and it is time for the wrong to be righted.
Johnson was convicted for having a consensual relationship with a white woman — a scandal during the period. Johnson scared many whites and his success was viewed as a challenge to white supremacy. Indeed, in 1910, former heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement to fight Johnson, stating “I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro” In 1910, former undefeated heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement and said “I am going into this fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro”. Johnson destroyed Jeffries who had been undefeated despite the fact that the band played “All coons look alike to me.”
Johnson lost the heavyweight title to Jess Willard in 1915.
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