'It's about time': Trump pardons late boxer Jack Johnson

Deontay Wilder Donald Trump Anthony Joshua

The president's decision resonates in the Triangle because Johnson, a trailblazing fighter who rose to fame unthinkable for a black man during the Jim Crow era, died in a segregated Raleigh hospital - 25 miles from a auto crash scene where he was refused aid by a white ambulance driver.

Actor Sylvester Stallone, who advocated for Johnson's pardon, joined Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday for the announcement.

McCain has called on presidents to pardon Johnson since 2004, when he introduced a resolution calling on then-President George W. Bush to "exercise his Constitutional authority" and pardon the boxer posthumously. Johnson's success in the the boxing ring and winning the world heavyweight title in 1908 was distasteful to white Americans, and fueled racial violence against black people. "I'm able to say that I was there when they pardoned Jack Johnson". The Mann Act purported to prevent human trafficking for the objective of prostitution, but critics have argued it was applied inconsistently to criminalize African Americans and those with dissenting political views. In 1912, Johnson met Lucille Cameron, an 18-year-old white prostitute.

Johnson was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral" purposes, for traveling with his white girlfriend. Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon! He served about a year in federal prison and was released in 1921.

"Waiting for the moment to go into the oval office for the pardon of the great black hat with a champion Jack Johnson", Stallone wrote on his Instagram page.

In 1910, when Johnson defeated "great white hope" Jim Jeffries in the so-called Fight of the Century in Reno, Nevada, race riots erupted across the nation, claiming more than 20 lives.

Deontay Wilder Donald Trump Anthony Joshua
GETTYTrump pardoned Jack Johnson after 100 years of injustice

"I love his movies", Trump said to Sylvester Stallone.

Johnson's penchant for dating white women led to a lot of trouble for the famed boxer. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have been pushing Johnson's case for years.

Johnson's great-great niece, Linda E. Haywood, was also at the ceremony. His reign included his knockout in 1910 of the so-called Great White Hope, former champion James J. Jeffries, which prompted race riots in dozens of US cities.

Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. "I appreciate you rewriting history", she told Trump.

"While it is unfortunate that this unjust conviction was not corrected during the boxer's lifetime, a posthumous pardon today represents the opportunity to reaffirm Jack Johnson's substantial contributions to our society and right this historical wrong", the letter said.

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