President Donald Trump granted a posthumous pardon to heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson following an appeal by actor Sylvester Stallone, the White House announced Thursday.
Johnson was convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act for taking his white girlfriend across state lines. The Mann Act made it a felony to transport "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose." It was supposed to prevent human trafficking, but critics argued it was used to criminalize African Americans and political dissidents.
"Today I've issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously, to John Arthur 'Jack' Johnson … The first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, a truly great fighter. Had a tough life," Trump said.
Trump was joined in the Oval Office by Stallone, current heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, and Johnson's great-great niece Linda Bell Haywood.
Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury after less than two hours of deliberations and was sent to prison for a year. The trial ruined his career. He died in 1946.
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