Senate Urges Obama to Pardon Boxer Jack Johnson

The first Black heavyweight boxing champion was convicted a century ago.

Posted: 04/18/2013 12:01 PM EDT
Senate Urges Obama to Pardon Boxer Jack Johnson

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate has voted 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 of Nevada and Arizona Republican John McCain say that a pardon would restore Johnson's name and correct a historical wrong.

The Senate approved the measure by voice vote late Wednesday.

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(Photo: AP Photo)

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