Text: S.Res.447 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Agreed to Senate (10/05/2004)

 
[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. Res. 447 Agreed to Senate (ATS)]







108th CONGRESS
  2d Session
S. RES. 447

  Expressing the sense of the Senate that the President of the United 
     States should exercise his Constitutional Authority to pardon 
 posthumously John Arthur ``Jack'' Johnson for Mr. Johnson's racially-
 motivated 1913 conviction that diminished his athletic, cultural, and 
      historic significance, and unduly tarnished his reputation.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                            October 5, 2004

  Mr. McCain (for himself, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Reid, and Mr. 
 Talent) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and 
                               agreed to

_______________________________________________________________________

                               RESOLUTION


 
  Expressing the sense of the Senate that the President of the United 
     States should exercise his Constitutional Authority to pardon 
 posthumously John Arthur ``Jack'' Johnson for Mr. Johnson's racially-
 motivated 1913 conviction that diminished his athletic, cultural, and 
      historic significance, and unduly tarnished his reputation.

Whereas, Jack Johnson was a flamboyant, defiant, and controversial figure in 
        American history who challenged racial biases;
Whereas, Jack Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878 to parents who were 
        former slaves;
Whereas, Jack Johnson became a professional boxer and traveled throughout the 
        United States fighting white as well as black heavyweights;
Whereas, Jack Johnson, after being denied, on purely racial grounds, the 
        opportunity to fight two white champions was granted an opportunity in 
        1908 by an Australian promoter to fight the reigning white title-holder, 
        Tommy Burns, whom Johnson defeated to become the first African American 
        to hold the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World;
Whereas, Jack Johnson's victory prompted a search for a white boxer who could 
        beat Johnson, a recruitment effort dubbed the search for the ``great 
        white hope'';
Whereas, a white former champion named Jim Jeffries left retirement to fight and 
        lose to Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, in 1910 in what was deemed the 
        ``Battle of the Century'';
Whereas, rioting and aggression toward African Americans resulted from Johnson's 
        defeat of Jeffries and led to racially-motivated murders of African 
        Americans nationwide;
Whereas, Jack Johnson's relationship with white women compounded the resentment 
        felt toward him by many whites;
Whereas, between 1901 and 1910, 754 African Americans were lynched, some of whom 
        were lynched simply for being ``too familiar'' with white women;
Whereas, in 1910 the Congress passed the Mann Act, (18 U.S.C. 2421), then known 
        as the ``White Slave Traffic Act,'' which outlawed the transportation of 
        women in interstate or foreign commerce ``for the purpose of 
        prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose'';
Whereas, in October, 1912, Jack Johnson became involved with a white woman whose 
        mother disapproved of their relationship and sought action from the 
        United States Department of Justice, claiming that Johnson had abducted 
        her daughter;
Whereas, Jack Johnson was arrested on October 18, 1912, by Federal marshals for 
        transporting this woman across State lines for an ``immoral purpose'' in 
        violation of the Mann Act, only to have the charges dropped when the 
        woman refused to cooperate with authorities and then married the 
        champion;
Whereas, Federal authorities persisted and summoned a white woman named Belle 
        Schreiber who testified that Johnson had transported her across State 
        lines for the purpose of ``prostitution and debauchery'';
Whereas, Jack Johnson was eventually convicted in 1913 of violating the Mann Act 
        and sentenced to one year and a day in Federal prison, but fled the 
        country to Canada and then on to various European and South American 
        countries, before losing the Heavyweight Championship title to Jess 
        Willard in Cuba in 1915;
Whereas, Jack Johnson returned to the United States in July, 1920, surrendered 
        to authorities, served nearly a year in the Federal penitentiary at 
        Leavenworth, Kansas, and fought subsequent boxing matches, but never 
        regained the Heavyweight Championship title;
Whereas, Jack Johnson served his country during World War II by encouraging 
        citizens to buy war bonds and participating in exhibition boxing matches 
        to promote the war bond cause;
Whereas, Jack Johnson died in an automobile accident in 1946; and
Whereas, in 1954 Jack Johnson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame: Now, 
        therefore, be it
    Resolved, That it is the Sense of the Senate that--
            (1) Jack Johnson paved the way for African American 
        athletes to participate and succeed in racially-integrated 
        professional sports in the United States;
            (2) Jack Johnson was wronged by a racially-motivated 
        conviction prompted by his success in the boxing ring and his 
        relationship with white women;
            (3) his criminal conviction unjustly ruined his career and 
        destroyed his reputation; and
            (4) the President of the United States should grant a 
        pardon to Jack Johnson posthumously to expunge from the annals 
        of American criminal justice a racially-motivated abuse of the 
        Federal government's prosecutorial authority and in recognition 
        of Mr. Johnson's athletic and cultural contributions to 
        society.
                                 <all>