CHICAGO (CBS) — It was a long time coming: a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson.
The first black heavyweight boxing champion.
Many believe he was convicted in Chicago in 1913 and sent to prison because of racism.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports a member of Johnson’s family, a Chicagoan, was in the Oval Office when President Trump signed the pardon.
“I believe Jack Jackson is a very worthy person to receive a full pardon,” said Trump.
Jack Johnson’s great, great, niece from Chicago said she was overwhelmed by the president’s pardon.
“The most important person that decided to do this is sitting here to my left, President Trump and I thank him,” said Linda Haywood.
Johnson’s supporters have insisted he was a victim of racism.
That the flamboyant first black heavyweight champ angered white America by defeating white rivals in the ring, and dating and marrying white women.
“When he would fight there would be race riots,” said the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Johnson was convicted of violating the Mann Act for taking a white woman across state lines.
Jackson has long pushed for a pardon.
“For him to be convicted like he had done something dirty, like he was a rapist, like he had kidnapped someone. He was taking his girlfriend across state lines that he married,” said Jackson.
Johnson’s great, great niece was joined by the Oval Office by boxing luminaries.
And Rocky himself, actor Sylvester Stallone.
“I am taking this very righteous step I believe to correct a wrong that occurred in our history,” said Trump.
“My family now can go forward knowing that the shame and pain has been erased and history will be rewritten,” said Haywood.
Jack Johnson spent 10 months in a federal prison.
He was killed in a car crash in 1946 and he was buried at Graceland Cemetery on Chicago’s North Side.
The Obama administration cited domestic violence allegations against Johnson for turning down the pardon.