Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), John McCain (R-AZ), William "Mo" Cowan (D-MA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Tuesday called on President Obama to pardon the late boxing champion Jack Johnson, Reid's office said.
Reid said in a statement:
“Jack Johnson was a legendary competitor who defined an era of American boxing and raised the bar for all American athletics. Johnson’s memory was unjustly tarnished by a racially-motivated criminal conviction, and it is now time to recast his legacy. I am pleased to work with my colleagues in both the Senate and House to formally restore Johnson’s name to the full stature and dignity he deserves.”
“Since 2004, Congressman King and I have fought for a posthumous pardon of Jack Johnson, the world’s first African-American heavyweight champion, for his racially motivated conviction. In past years, both chambers of Congress unanimously passed this resolution, but unfortunately, it still awaits executive action and no pardon has been issued. We can never completely right the wrong perpetrated against Jack Johnson during his lifetime, but this pardon is a small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law and celebrating his legacy of athletic greatness and historical significance.”
“Jack Johnson was one of the great African-American athletes. His skill and perseverance to get back up every time he was knocked down made him a champion in the eyes of the sports world and for those who, like him, pursued their dreams despite racial intolerance. I'm proud to join Senator McCain and Representative King in their effort to restore the legacy he fought so hard to achieve.”
“Jack Johnson is a trailblazer and a legend, whose boxing career was cut short due to unjust laws and racial persecution. I urge the Congress and the President to do the right thing and take the final step and grant his pardon. I am proud to stand with Senator McCain once again to introduce this legislation.”