Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Pardon Jack Johnson

By JE Grant

Legendary heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, was at once seen as brilliant and dominant in his time -- and he was as thoroughly castigated as any person ever to claim the title "world champion." Of course his sole offense was that he was black and he was not one for accepting a second-class role.

He found himself a fugitive from the law for violating provisions of the Mann Act, a law prohibiting the interstate transportation of women for an "immoral purpose"-- and as it was applied to Jack Johnson that meant transporting a white woman across state lines, a woman that was in fact willing to be in his presence. Deeming Jack Johnson a criminal was clearly designed to bring down the brash champion down using the law for twisted, racist purposes.

He was convicted and served a year for this dubious crime. A pardon now, though symbolic, is an important repudiation of a part of our nation's history --- a part that must be as fully exposed as possible in order for us to keep moving forward on issues of race.

Pardon Jack Johnson.


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