McCain feels Johnson was wronged by a 1913 conviction of violating the Mann Act by having a consensual relationship with a white woman -- a conviction widely seen as racially motivated.
"I've been a very big fight fan, I was a mediocre boxer myself," McCain, R-Ariz., said in a telephone interview. "I had admired Jack Johnson's prowess in the ring. And the more I found out about him, the more I thought a grave injustice was done."
On Wednesday, McCain will join Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., filmmaker Ken Burns and Johnson's great niece, Linda Haywood, at a Capitol Hill news conference to unveil a resolution urging a presidential pardon for Johnson. Similar legislation offered in 2004 and last year failed to pass both chambers of Congress.
King, a recreational boxer, said a pardon would "remove a cloud that's been over the American sporting scene ever since [Johnson] was convicted on these trumped-up charges."
"I think the moment is now," King said.
In 1913, Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act, which outlawed transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes. The law has since been heavily amended, but has not been repealed.
Authorities first targeted Johnson's relationship with a white woman who later became his wife, then found another white woman to testify against him. Johnson fled the country after his conviction, but agreed years later to return and serve a 10-month jail sentence. He tried to renew his boxing career after leaving prison, but failed to regain his title. He died in a car crash in 1946 at age 68.
"When we couldn't beat him in the ring, the white power establishment decided to beat him in the courts," Burns told the AP in a telephone interview. Burns' 2005 documentary, "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson," examined Johnson's case and the sentencing judge's admitted desire to "send a message" to black men about relationships with white women."
I'm confused and frightened by John McCain's attempt to get me to hate him with slightly less intensity. This pardon seems like a just and right thing to do; however, due to McCain's involvement in it I will need some time to examine the facts and process before I am able to come to terms with this.
OH WAIT, it is April Fool's Day...just sayin.