05-R 218

2005 -- H 5274

Enacted 04/28/05


H O U S E  R E S O L U T I O N




     Introduced By: Representatives Almeida, Kilmartin, Flaherty, Diaz, and Slater

     Date Introduced: February 02, 2005



     WHEREAS, John Arthur "Jack" Johnson was born in 1878 in Galveston, Texas, the son

of slaves and was raised in the Jim Crow South. Johnson's complex personality displayed that he

was not only physically and mentally strong, independent, well read, intelligent, flamboyant and

witty, but also a drinking womanizer who had a temper. He chose a life not dictated by the

discriminatory norms of society prevalent at that time, but rather as a man free to pursue life on

his own terms; and

     WHEREAS, In the first decade of the twentieth century Jack Johnson pursued the Heavy

Weight Championship of the World only to be shunned for the opportunity to fight for the title

but not because of a lack of ability. Like John L. Sullivan before him, the title holder at the time,

Jim Jeffries, refused to fight a black man thereby denying Johnson a title fight. Jeffries retired

from the sport undefeated; and

     WHEREAS, In 1908, Jeffries successor, Canadian Tommy Burns, agreed to fight

Johnson in Sydney, Australia, where Johnson handily defeated him in fourteen rounds, causing

the white population to search for the "Great White Hope" who could defeat Johnson and take

back the title for white society; and

     WHEREAS, After Johnson defeated many "hopes" for the title, Jeffries came out of

retirement to fight Johnson to take back the title in the "Battle of the Century" on July 4, 1910, in

Reno, Nevada where Johnson summarily defeated him in fifteen rounds; and

     WHEREAS, White society could not defeat Johnson in the boxing ring, the government

pursued him because of his proclivity to date and marry white woman. In 1913, Johnson was

found guilty by an all white jury on trumped up charges for violating the Mann Act for which he

was given the maximum sentence of one year and one day, forcing him to leave the United States

until 1920, when he returned to serve his sentence; and

     WHEREAS, Jack Johnson died in 1946 with the 1913 conviction on his record and that

conviction was racially motivated and discriminatory; now therefore be it

     RESOLVED, That the Rhode Island House of Representatives hereby requests that

George W. Bush, President of the United States pardon John Arthur Johnson for his 1913

conviction for violating the Mann Act, and be it further

     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to

transmit a duly certified copy of this resolution to the President of the United States George W.