President Donald Trump has granted a rare posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, more than 100 years after what many see as his racially charged conviction.
“Today, I’ve issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously, to John Arthur ‘Jack’ Johnson … The first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, a truly great fighter. Had a tough life,” Trump said during an Oval Office ceremony Thursday.
Trump was joined by boxer Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, who has drawn awareness to Johnson’s cause.
“It’s my honor to do it. It’s about time,” Trump added. “He represented something that was both very beautiful and very terrible at the same time.”
In 1913, Johnson was convicted in less than two hours by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act for taking his white girlfriend across state lines for “immoral” purposes. He was imprisoned for a year.