WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday issued a posthumous pardon to boxer Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion who was jailed a century ago after having a relationship with a white woman.
“I believe Jack Johnson is a worthy person to receive a pardon, to correct a wrong in our history,” Trump said.
In a case that came to symbolize racial injustice, Johnson was arrested in 1912 with Lucille Cameron, who later became his wife, for violating the Mann Act. The law was passed two years earlier and made it a crime to take a woman across state lines for immoral purposes.
Johnson died in 1946.
Actor Sylvester Stallone, famous as the star of the “Rocky” boxing-movie franchise, and boxer Lennox Lewis flanked Trump for the pardon in the Oval Office. In April, Trump tweeted that he was considering the pardon after talking to Stallone.
Earlier on Thursday, Stallone posted a photo of himself at the White House on Instagram with the caption “Waiting for the moment to go into the oval office for the pardon…”
Reporting by Susan Heavey and James Oliphant; writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Cynthia Osterman