WASHINGTON, April 7 – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network — Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and professional boxers on Wednesday to call on President
Bush to issue a full pardon for Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight
champion of the world.
“Jack Johnson’s story is more than a story about a great athlete. He was
the cultural icon of his day. He broke racial barriers in his fight for
freedom and equality,” Hoffa said. “We are fighting to restore his proper
place in our nation’s history.”
McCain and King are leading the fight in Congress to obtain a presidential
pardon for Johnson. Many lawmakers have already signed on as cosponsors to a
resolution King introduced this session.
A pardon “would be a strong and necessary symbol to the world of America’s
continuing resolve to live up to the noble ideals of freedom, opportunity and
equal justice for all,” McCain said, adding that “no one should be punished
for choosing to go their own way.”
“It is a travesty of justice — it was a sham conviction,” King said of
Johnson’s case. “It is a blot on our country’s history.”
Acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns initiated the pardon effort last year when
completing the work on his film on Jackson’s life, Unforgivable Blackness: The
Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. A legal petition prepared for the Committee to
Pardon Jack Johnson was filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in July and
is currently being considered by the DOJ and the White House.
As the first African American heavyweight champion of the world, Johnson
earned the respect of fighters and fans alike for his courage and
determination both inside and outside the ring.
“Jack Johnson was a great boxer and deserves the utmost respect,” said
Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, founder and president of the Joint Association of
Boxers. “This effort to get him a pardon is all about getting him that
respect, even after all these years. It’s time for justice.”
During the height of Johnson’s career, he was convicted under the Mann Act
in 1913 for transporting a white woman, his then fiancie and future wife,
across state lines. Although the arbitrary nature of his conviction is well
documented in history, it has served to push his legacy to near obscurity.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4
million hardworking men and women across North America.
Web Site: http://www.teamster.org