Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Biden Pardons Black Secret Service Agent Who Guarded JFK

Abraham Bolden is among 78 pardons and commutations issued today

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In this photo dated May 21, 1964, then 29-year-old Abraham Bolden was a suspended U.S. secret service agent. He walked with his wife before he was indicted on charges of offering to sell secret government documents to an underworld figure for $50,000. He was convicted in 1966. Today, President Joe Biden pardoned him.
In this photo dated May 21, 1964, then 29-year-old Abraham Bolden was a suspended U.S. secret service agent. He walked with his wife before he was indicted on charges of offering to sell secret government documents to an underworld figure for $50,000. He was convicted in 1966. Today, President Joe Biden pardoned him.
Photo: Bettman (Getty Images)

The first Black Secret Service agent who was assigned to protect a president is among the first three people pardoned by President Joe Biden, the White House announced on Tuesday.

Abraham Bolden Sr., was assigned to a detail protecting President John F. Kennedy in 1961 at Kennedy’s own request. But in 1964, he was accused of trying to sell a classified Secret Service document. His first trial ended in a hung jury but he was later convicted in a second trial despite witnesses testifying that they had lied to please the prosecution.

In addition to Bolden’s pardon, Biden released the names of 77 others who received pardons or commutations of their sentences, many of them Black and Hispanic people who were convicted of drug-related crimes at the mass incarceration era. Because of reforms to sentencing laws passed after their convictions, many of the convicted would have spent far less time in prison, or none at all, if convicted today.

That applies to the two other pardons Biden issued. One went to Betty Jo Bogans, a 51-year-old Houston woman who did seven years federal prison for a 1998 conviction for possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. The drugs belonged to her then-boyfriend and an associate, neither of whom were arrested in the case.

52-year-old Dexter Eugene Jackson of Athens, Ga., was pardoned for his 2002 conviction on charges that he allowed a pool hall he owned to be used by others to distribute weed. The White House said Jackson wasn’t part of the weed ring but pleaded guilty anyway and served time in prison, though it’s unclear how long. In the years since, many states–though not Georgia–have decriminalized marijuana and the House voted this month to end federal criminalization of the plant. The Biden Administration released a drug control plan last week centered on treatment and stopping trafficking, a sharp contrast to the lock-em-up era of the drug war in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The White House didn’t release Bogans’ or Jackson’s ethnicities.

Bolden, now 86, spent “several” years in prison for his conviction and has spent the decades since his release fighting to clear his name. Bolden told the Chicago Sun Times in 2016 that, “I’d rather die than say I did something I didn’t do…I think that there is enough proof of my innocence out there.

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“Eventually, whether or not the president acts, my name will be cleared.”

Today, the president finally acted.