Trump’s history of racism dates back to before he was even born — when his father Fred Trump was arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927. Since then, there are housing discrimination lawsuits from the 1970s, racist comments about the Central Park Five, the Birther movement and the endless things he has said as president. But now Trump is bragging about pardoning a Black sports icon and is pulling a Miss Millie from The Color Purple with his version of “I’ve always been good to you people!”
Jackson Johnson was the first Black boxing champion from 1908 to 1915. Johnson’s biggest win was beating white boxer James J. Jeffries on Independence Day 1910. The win caused white people to riot across the country and some have argued this was the beginning of Johnson being wrongfully imprisoned — white men wanted their revenge.
Johnson was reportedly married to three white women and often flaunted his relationships in the press. In October 1912, Johnson was arrested for his relationship with Lucille Cameron, which violated the Mann Act (“transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes”) because authorities claimed she was a prostitute. Cameron and Johnson married and she refused to cooperate with authorities. However, authorities found a second white woman he was involved with in 1909, Belle Schreiber, and they also claimed she was a prostitute and argued Johnson violated the Mann Act with her. Johnson was found guilty by an all-white jury in June 1913 and sentenced to a year and a day in prison. However, Johnson skipped bail, left the country with his wife and lived in exile in Europe for seven years. He returned to America in July 20, 1920 and served his wrongful prison sentence. Johnson died in a car crash in 1945.
There have been several requests for a posthumous presidential pardon for this racist stain on Johnson’s record. Famously, Johnson even requested his own pardon in 1920, but of course was ignored. George W. Bush denied the posthumous presidential pardon and, surprisingly, President Barack Obama denied this posthumous presidential pardon twice. The Daily Beast reported many were shocked Obama didn’t issue the pardon, writing, “‘It befuddled all of us,’ said one congressional aide involved in the push. ‘We couldn’t for the life of us understand why he didn’t do anything or the administration didn’t.'”
Well, yesterday President Trump approved the posthumous presidential pardon. He was in the Oval Office with Sylvester Stallone (who personally called Trump about the pardon), current heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and Johnson’s great-great niece Linda Bell Haywood. Trump said, “Today I’ve issued an executive grant of clemency, a full pardon, posthumously, to John Arthur ‘Jack’ Johnson … The first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, a truly great fighter. Had a tough life. We have done something today that was very important, because we righted a wrong.” He also added, “Jack Johnson was not treated fairly, and we have corrected that, and I’m very honored to have done it.”
Isn’t it fascinating how Trump can see when a Black person has been treated unfairly when they have been dead for 71 years? This is especially ironic because Johnson fought back against racial injustice and our corrupt criminal justice system, but if a NFL player uses their First Amendment right to peacefully do the same they should be penalized, according to Trump. If he is issuing a pardon, why not issue an apology to the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully jailed in 1989 for assaulting a white woman, exonerated and Trump said they were still guilty as recent as 2014? Clearly, Trump issued this pardon because Obama didn’t. That is Trump’s motivation for his entire presidency and there doesn’t appear to be a sincere bone in his entire body.