In 1908, boxer Jack Johnson became the first African American heavyweight champion. He was bold and brash in a time when such characteristics were simply not permitted for a black man, superstar or not.
In 1912, Johnson was charged with violating the Mann Act, also known as the White-Slave Traffic Act, for transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. The “immoral purpose” in this instance was to “defile a white woman,” who just happened to be his wife. Johnson was convicted of the crime and would eventually serve 10 months in prison.
Over one hundred years later, Senator John McCain is leading a push to have Johnson posthumously pardoned by the United States government for the dubious crime.
On the latest episode of Bill Rhoden On Sports, Bill shares excerpts from his interview with Senator McCain, who explains why he feels a pardon is important and, of course, long overdue.
“Don’t you think this issue says something about the character of America?” Senator McCain asked Bill. “It’s embarrassing to me.”
The measure to pardon Johnson fell on deaf ears during the Bush and Clinton administrations and has yet to be embraced by the Obama administration.
Bill implores President Obama to take action: “It would set a precedent that one hundred years from now, if we still have to go back in history [to right previous wrongs], we will go back and excavate because that’s what we have to do.”
Bill and I also discuss the University of Louisville basketball prostitution scandal and hear from Rick Pitino, who addressed the issue directly Saturday night, after his team’s victory in Brooklyn.
We also talk about the big Kobe Bryant retirement news and debate Kobe’s legacy and whether he is the best Laker ever.
Listen to our take on all of the above and more on the latest episode of Bill Rhoden On Sports.
Follow the Bill Rhoden On Sports podcast on Twitter @BROSpod.