President Trump has granted a posthumous pardon to Jack Johnson, boxing's first black heavyweight champion, following through on a tweet last month. The pardon, which wasn't on the president's public schedule, came hours after Mr. Trump announced he is.
Sylvester Stallone, who starred in the "Rocky" series," had urged Mr. Trump to grant the pardon, and appeared in the White House on Thursday.
"I believe that Jack Johnson is a very worthy person to receive a full pardon, and in this case, a posthumous pardon," the president said, with Jackson's family members and Stallone surrounding him. "So I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion."
Johnson, who died in 1946, was convicted by an all-white jury in Chicago in 1913 of violating the Jim Crow-era White-Slave Traffic Act, that was intended to prevent and punish human trafficking and was used on Johnson for traveling with a white woman. The conviction was carried out even though the alleged crime took place before the law had passed. Johnson skipped bail and fled the country, living in exile, before ultimately surrendering and returning to service his one-year sentence.
Activists and family members have long advocated for Johnson's posthumous pardon, as have U.S. officials like Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and former Sen. Harry Reid.
Mr. Trump tweeted last month that Johnson's "trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial."
A former Obama White House staffer, asked why the previous president never issued the pardon, said Obama's White House diligently adhered to DOJ practices, and their practice was not to focus on posthumous pardons to focus on lives that could actually be affected by a pardon.
Stallone posted a picture of himself in the Oval Office on Thursday.