By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Desk
Laws change and people change. The fact that society still holds a criminal conviction over the head of famed boxer Jack Johnson just doesn’t sit right with some people, especially his family. Johnson, the first ever Black heavyweight champion, was a magnet for controversy before he died in a traffic accident. He drew a heavy following of African-American fans while isolating Caucasians with his flashy lifestyle and proud affection for White women. An outdated Jim Crow law from 1913 landed Johnson in jail after a seven-year run from the law. Charged with transporting his future White wife across state lines, the crime was bogus but marred Johnson’s criminal record for close to 100 years. Actor Sylvester Stallone has recently reopened the argument with Donald Trump about pardoning Johnson for the alleged crime. Should it be pardoned? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate.
Green: America is up to speed by now on many of the bogus laws that was made by White people, for White people and enforced by White people that totally railroaded Blacks. Even though times are much different now, trying to reverse a conviction for a Black man is an uphill battle. Of course I feel the pardon should be reversed but will it? Probably not. We’re talking about assigning Trump to help a deceased Black man out. The odds don’t look good.
Riley: With all the heat on Trump right now it would be in his best interest to fight and make sure Johnson gets pardoned. Trump is up for re-election in less than two years, and while
he’s already obliterated the Black vote with his off-the-wall comments, this would go a long way with some older African Americans to try to win them back in his favor. The law was bogus 100 years ago and it’s even more laughable now. Ironically, it would take a non-African American to get Trump’s brain thinking about pardoning Johnson. But, considering everything that’s been going on with society recently, it’ll happen.
Green: Riley, considering everything that’s been happening with society it probably won’t happen. Blacks have always had one foot in and one foot out of the frying pan. Even Barack Obama couldn’t get a pardon passed, so what’s really the likelihood of Trump moving this? I don’t like the odds and I don’t like Trump’s greasy hands even handling this. Your president has already shown his hand and displayed his true feelings towards any subject that deserves sympathy, showing how unsympathetic he really is. This would be a feel-good story if Johnson was pardoned, but leave it to Trump to ruin it if it’s resting in his hands.
Riley: The fact that Trump sent out a Tweet on April 21, calling national attention to this topic as well as himself is a telling sign. Why would he do that if he wasn’t intending on pushing the papers on this? Call Trump what you want but he’s always been a smart and savvy businessman, and when you bring national attention on yourself, it’s bad business if you don’t come through on your word. It’ll happen. Johnson will be pardoned, and while he’s no longer here to see or hear his name being cleared, it would be a small win in an overall big battle.