Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson (Courtesy of loc.gov)

President Donald Trump announced that he is considering granting a posthumous pardon to champion boxer Jack Johnson, who died more than 70 years ago.

Trump said in a tweet Saturday that he was acting on the advice of actor Sylvester Stallone, who famously portrayed a boxer in the “Rocky” movie series.

“Sylvester Stallone called me with the story of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson,” Trump tweeted. “His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial. Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon.”

Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion, was convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for taking his white girlfriend across state lines for “immoral” purposes. Critics say the law was used in racially motivated prosecutions of Blacks.

Johnson, who was convicted by an all-white jury in less than two hours and spent a year in prison, died in 1946.

Two years ago, a group of bipartisan lawmakers that included then-Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain, along with Reps. Peter King and Gregory Meeks, petitioned the Obama administration to grant a pardon to Johnson in honor of the 70th anniversary of the boxer’s death.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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