In 1910, Jack Johnson officially became the first black heavyweight champion of the world. Now, over a century later, two lawmakers have taken up a fight for the boxing giant’s reputation. They’ve asked President Obama to pardon Johnson, who was convicted on morals charges in Chicago.
Johnson was found guilty of traveling across state lines for immoral sexual activity. But some believe Jack Johnson’s real offense was to be a successful, unapologetic black man who also loved white women.
Johnson’s life and times were documented last year in unusual fashion. In Portrait of Jack Johnson local jazz bassist Karl Seigfried composes musical profiles of Johnson and two other boxing champs. Seigfried, saxophonist Fred Jackson, Jr. and drummer Dave Williams joined Eight Forty-Eight in 2010 to perform and talk about the project.