Senator McCain and His Jack Johnson Campaign

Jack Johnson

I don't know whether to laugh my butt off or weep foolishly.  Senator John McCain and Representative Peter King have finally drafted a letter to President Obama on the matter of race and boxing.  McCain, a longtime boxing advocate, wants Obama to issue a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight Champion of the World.

In 1912, the widowed Johnson was sentenced to prison for violating the Mann Act, a law set up to discourage men from transporting prostitutes across state line.  Johnson, who said black women caused him too much heartache and that he would only marry white women, was the first man to be convicted of violating the Act.  He was having an affair with a white prostitute.  Johnson skipped bail and fled to Europe with his prostitute-wife where they lived in exile for several years.  In 1920 Johnson returned to the States and surrendered to the authorities.  He was released from prison in 1921.


I certainly believe President Obama should provide a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson. African-American men [and other men of color] have endured endless agony for dating or marrying white women.  They still do.

From jail sentences to lynchings, black men have suffered at the hands of an intolerant country and a posthumous pardon would serve as a pardon for all of them.  The crazy component to all of this is Senator McCain.  Come on.  The man once said he hated "gooks," and during his presidential campaign he pandered to racists and the mean-spirited conservatives. Now I'm supposed to believe that he thinks a black man imprisoned for frolicking with a white prostitute is a passionate cause?  I don't know.  Maybe I should just sit down and be happy somebody's doing something.  It's just difficult for me to swallow the faux integrity of some politicians. It's difficult for me to beleive that McCain is sincere in his advocacy for someone like Jack Johnson.

Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.

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