LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – A Jack Johnson pardon is being urged in a new Mike Tyson petition. Efforts for a Jack Jackson posthumous pardon had been growing in recent years. But now, Mike Tyson has joined the effort.
Four years ago, Congress passed a resolution on the matter. Congress sought President Obama to issue a pardon for Johnson. But it didn’t happen. Now Mike Tyson is getting involved.
Tyson tells news “This unjust prosecution ultimately tarnished Jack Johnson’s legacy. Senator Harry Reid and Senator John McCain have taken up this issue and are working towards a pardon.” He adds “Let’s show President Obama and the White House that we too care about Jack Johnson’s legacy by signing this petition. In doing so, we are also righting the legacy of our great country.”
Jack Johnson was the first Black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. After dominating the segregated African American heavyweight championship league for year, he finally got a chance in 1908 to fight white boxer Tommy Burns. Johnson would win. Two years later he defeated white challenger James Jeffries as well.
But in 1912, Johnson was arrested under the Mann Act, passed in 1910, for traveling with white girlfriend Lucille Cameron across state lines. Cameron would eventually become his wife. But the law then prohibited transporting women “for immoral purposes.” After Cameron refused to testify against Johnson, he was arrested in 193 for traveling with white former girlfriend Belle Schreiber across state line.
Tyson tells news “In it’s original form the [Mann Act] law prohibited white slavery and the interstate transport of females for immoral purposes, which was to address prostitution. However, its ambiguous language of “immorality” allowed selective prosecutions, which was the unfortunate case of Mr. Johnson.”
In 1913 Johnson was sentenced to a year and one day in prison. He became a fugitive for seven years in Europe and South Africa. And in September 1920 he served 10 months in a US jail.