By Frederick H. Lowe
President Donald Trump today issued a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson, the world’s first black heavyweight boxing champion, while at the same time taking a swipe at black National Football League players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and an unfair justice system.
“Today, as President, I’ve issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously, to John Arthur “Jack” Johnson — he was known as “Jack Johnson” — the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world. A truly great fighter. Had a tough life. They say he violated the Mann Act, and he had a conviction that occurred during a period of tremendous racial tension in the United States, more than a century ago. Johnson served 10 months in federal prison for what many view as a racially motivated injustice. He was treated very rough, very tough,” Trump said.
President Trump announced in April that he was considering pardoning Jack Johnson at the request of actor Sylvester Stallone. U.S. Senator John McCain and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns also sought a pardon for Johnson.
President Trump pardoned Johnson on the same day he told Fox News that any National Football League player kneeling during the national anthem shouldn’t live in this country.