Overview:

The first Black Secret Service agent on a presidential detail has been pardoned by President Joe Biden.

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that among his first pardons would be the first Black man to serve on a presidential detail, under president John F. Kennedy. Abraham Bolden was charged in 1964 with attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file. It took two trials to convict Bolden- the first resulted in a hung jury.

Bolden’s conviction came after he claimed that he was framed for attempting to expose gross misconduct and speaking out against the continual racism he faced as a member of the Secret Service. During his second trial, witnesses admitted they were pressured by prosecutors into lying. Despite these admissions, Bolden was denied a new trial. Bolden remained unwavering in maintaining his innocence. He was sentenced to six years in federal prison, he served 39 months with a 2 ½-year probation.

Bolden wrote of his experiences in a 2008 book, The Echo From Dealey Plaza, in which he says the charges against him came only after he accused other agents assigned to President John F. Kennedy’s detail of drinking the night before Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and being generally derelict in their duty.

The Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., are celebrating the pardon of their brother. Their media release reads in part:

While a presidential pardon is not a vindication for the gross injustice Brother Bolden faced and endured, it is a long overdue acknowledgment and commendation of his character and his many contributions to the community following his release from prison.

Since then, Brother Bolden, a 1953 Alpha Psi Chapter initiate at Lincoln University, MO, and member of the Xi Lambda Chapter in Chicago, IL., has received numerous awards and honors for his continued efforts and his courage for standing against injustice. 

We, as men of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., have long stood against injustice, and some have suffered for it. We congratulate Brother Bolden on this presidential pardon, and his ongoing efforts to maintain his integrity and fight for what is right no matter the cost.

Bolden was among 78 individuals to be granted clemency by Biden on Tuesday. The list includes three pardons and 75 commutations.

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