The pardon I'm talking about is for the boxer Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight in the US, who had to endure unbelievable racism during the early decades of the previous century. He was successfully convicted using the Mann Act, after a couple of attempts. He was transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes, you see. The fact that Jack consorted with white women, or was beating the stuffing out of every white man who faced him in the ring had nothing to do with it of course.
It has taken almost 100 years to get a pardon. Technically, it still hasn't happened. What we have now is a Congressional Resolution, passed by both houses (and sponsored by Republicans--McCain in the Senate; douchey New York Rep. Peter King in the House) urging a pardon for a guy who was convicted under a law that was basically created to stop fictional white slavery and all-too-real uppity blacks.
Johnson only served a year in the Federal Pen in Leavenworth, but that's at a year more than he should of. Jack Johnson certainly deserves a pardon and it is pretty shocking that this didn't happen during the Civil Rights push in the 60's. I've got a feeling that now this thing has passed both Houses with bipartisan support, President Obama will make it happen. It's not the most important thing that will be passed in 2009 (one would hope) but it is a gesture. A long, long overdue gesture. If you have not watched Unforgiveable Blackness by Ken Burns, I highly recommend that you do. In the meantime, PBS has a nice little Flash piece on the first Fight of the Century of the 20th Century. Watch it!