WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Wednesday to urge President Barack Obama to pardon posthumously the first black heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Johnson, who was convicted a century ago of accompanying a white woman across state lines.
Johnson won the title in 1908 and two years later defended it against a white man, Jim Jeffries, sparking race riots.
In 1913, an all-white jury convicted Johnson of crossing state lines with a white woman for “immoral purposes.” He was sentenced to a year in prison.
Relatives and supporters have long campaigned for Johnson’s exoneration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that a pardon would restore Johnson’s name and correct a historical wrong.