John McCain Still Wants Boxer Jack Johnson Pardoned -- Nearly 100 Years After Violating Racist Law
Senator John McCain, as well as several other members of Congress, are renewing efforts to get boxer Jack Johnson pardoned -- despite the fact that Johnson's been dead since the Truman administration.
McCain, as well as New York Representative Peter King, plan to reintroduce a congressional resolution urging a pardon for Johnson for his 1913 violation of the Mann Act.
Johnson, a black guy, apparently had a thing for white women, which didn't sit well with the racists of the day.
Johnson was convicted of "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes," a crime for which he was sentenced to one year in prison.
NBA Preseason Basketball: Phoenix Suns v. San Antonio Spurs
TicketsMon., Oct. 3, 7:00pm
NBA Preseason Basketball: Phoenix Suns v. Utah Jazz
TicketsWed., Oct. 5, 7:00pm
Arizona Coyotes vs. San Jose Sharks
TicketsFri., Oct. 7, 7:00pm
TicketsSat., Oct. 8, 7:00pm
Rather than do the time, Johnson fled the country and lived abroad until surrendering himself to the U.S. government at the Mexican border in 1920.
Johnson ended up serving just under a year in prison, which is apparently long enough for "the Maverick" to take up the cause.
In August of 2009, McCain rallied members of Congress to support a posthumous pardon for Johnson. He sent a letter to President Obama urging him to consider the pardon, to which he claims he got no response.
In a letter sent to Obama in October of 2009, McCain urged the president to "right this wrong and erase an act of racism that sent an American citizen to prison."
As we argued at the time, of all the black people who have unjustly spent time in prison, McCain picks a guy who did less than a year and has been dead since the 1940s? The Justice Department seems to agree with our assessment.
While Obama has not commented publicly about a pardon for Johnson, a Justice Department attorney who advises on pardons sent McCain and King a letter explaining that pardons tend to be reserved for people "who can truly benefit" from them.
In other words, what's the point in wasting time and effort advocating for a symbolic pardon for a guy who did less than a year in jail and has been dead since the end of World War II?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.