Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion of the world, and arguably the most famous and controversial black man on earth in the early 1900s.

If it wasn’t bad enough that he embarrassed countless white competitors (causing race riots, in fact), he also had a white girlfriend, whom he eventually married.

White America wanted him lynched, but they settled for a prison sentence for transporting a women (his girlfriend) across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

Today, the wrongs done to Jack Johnson are common knowledge, and many are calling for a presidential pardon.

So what’s the hold up?

From the Grio:

The push to pardon Jack Johnson due to a racially-motivated conviction enjoys bipartisan support, including backing from some of the most conservative members of Congress.

A resolution passed both houses in 2009, but the president failed to act on it.  Senators Harry Reid (D-Nevada), John McCain (R-Arizona), and William “Mo” Cowan (D-Massachusetts), and Rep. Peter King (R-New York) recently reintroduced the resolution.

“Jack Johnson was one of the great African-American athletes. His skill and perseverance to get back up every time he was knocked down made him a champion in the eyes of the sports world and for those who, like him, pursued their dreams despite racial intolerance,” Senator Cowan said in a written statement.

“In past years, both chambers of Congress unanimously passed this resolution, but unfortunately, it still awaits executive action and no pardon has been issued,” said Senator McCain.  “We can never completely right the wrong perpetrated against Jack Johnson during his lifetime, but this pardon is a small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law and celebrating his legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance.”

It is unclear why the President has not pardoned Jack Johnson. The Grio’s David Love believes its another example of President Obama “playing it safe, particularly where race plays a factor. ”

What do you think?


Is it time Jack Johnson received a pardon for his “crime?”

Why do you think President Obama has yet to pardon Johnson?

Sound off below!