July 29, 2009
Congress has approved a resolution urging a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, the late black heavyweight champion who was imprisoned because of his romantic ties with a white woman.
The House passed the resolution Wednesday by voice vote, about a month after the Senate approved it.
Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908, a century before the nation elected Barack Obama its first black president. The Senate resolution was sponsored by Obama's 2008
GOP rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
In 1913, Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act, which made it illegal to transport women across state lines for immoral purposes. The law has since been heavily amended, but has not been repealed.