President Trump is considering granting boxer Jack Johnson a posthumous pardon, the president said on Twitter Saturday.
Johnson was the first African-American to hold the world heavyweight boxing title. He reigned as champion from 1908 to 1915, during the height of the Jim Crow Era.
Johnson was targeted by Congress for his relationship with a white woman.
Lawmakers created the Mann Act, which prohibited transporting women across state lines for “prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.” Federal agents arrested Johnson in 1912 on charges that he had slave trafficked his girlfriend, and later wife, Lucille Cameron. When Cameron refused to cooperate with prosecutors, federal agents convinced his ex-girlfriend Belle Schreiber to testify against him – even though their relationship existed before this bill was passed – and Johnson was convicted.
He fled the country for seven years before he returned and served his year and one day sentence. He died in 1946, with the conviction remaining on his record.
In 2016, a campaign asking President Obama to posthumously pardon Johnson gained traction – which PIX11 covered in The Final Fight series.