Wednesday, April 1, 2009

John McCain seeks pardon for late boxer Jack Johnson

In 1913, legendary boxer Jack Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act by having consensual sex with a white woman, which clearly was a racially motivated conviction. Some 96 years later senator John McCain, representative Peter King of New York, filmmaker Ken Burns and Linda Haywood, Johnson's great-niece, were on Capitol Hill today to ask for a presidential pardon of Johnson.

It would be only the third time a deceased person has been granted a pardon.

Although Johnson passed almost 63 years ago, I think the pardon should be granted. The conviction never should have happened, along with a countless number of other racially motivated occurrences in United States history. And of all the people pardoned that didn't deserve a break, Johnson does, even if it is posthumously. It would be one more step in showing him for what he was, a great boxer during a time when whites would not accept him.

But the cynic in me asks this question. Is John McCain simply trying to save face and make himself look good with all this? After all, he did vote against making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a national holiday in 1983.

He is a politician, remember, and that's what politicians do.

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