WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is leading an effort to win a posthumous presidential pardon for Jack Johnson, the first black U.S. heavyweight champion.
McCain and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns are two of the more notable members of a committee of elected officials, authors, legal experts, celebrities and boxing experts who have announced plans to file a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice seeking a a pardon for Johnson, who was convicted in 1913 of violating the federal Mann Act, which involves transporting an individual over state lines for prostitution.
The petition, which will be filed Tuesday, is based on information to be unveiled in Burns's upcoming film on Johnson's life that suggests his conviction was based on his race and was discriminatory in intent and conclusion.
Other members of the committee include boxers Sugar Ray Leonard, Bernard Hopkins and John Ruiz, authors Bert Sugar and Pete Hamill and and ESPN and CBS sports analyst and former NBA player Len Elmore.
If granted, the committee said, it would be only the second posthumous presidential pardon in U.S. history.