A Pardon for Jack Johnson

Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson, convicted in a unjust federal trial in 1913, was posthumously pardoned by President Donald Trump on Thursday. Mr. Johnson, the first African American boxing champion, was a victim of racism, and there has been a long campaign to right this historical wrong, complicated by Johnson’s history of adultery and domestic violence.

But remedying racial injustice doesn’t seem to be why Mr. Trump pardoned Jack Johnson. He did it because celebrity pal Sylvester Stallone asked him to, and because Mr. Johnson was “a truly legendary boxing champion, legendary athlete, and a person that, when people got to know him, they really liked him,” said the president. A flamboyant, womanizing, larger-than-life celebrity? Donald Trump can certainly relate to that.

And of course if Donald Trump can pardon a dead man, surely there’s hope for Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn ….

More:

“Trump’s pardon of Jack Johnson is not insignificant. But caring about racial injustice in 2018 would be more meaningful.” Eugene Scott, Washington Post

 

Video: Celebrity Jack Johnson conducts an unidentified jazz band, 1929. Alternate takes here.

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