The Bryan Museum joins the Island and the rest of the nation in celebrating President Donald Trump’s posthumous pardon of Jack Johnson. “It is important that we recognize our history and this pardon goes a long way towards correcting the historic injustices faced by Galveston native Jack Johnson,” noted Joan Marshall, the Museum’s director, on hearing the news.
Johnson was the first black man to win the world heavyweight boxing championship on Dec. 26, 1908. In addition, he regularly crossed the lines of racism that divided America at that time, earning enemies and admirers. In 1913, he was convicted of violating the Jim Crow era Mann Act when crossing state lines with his future wife, a white woman, and soon forced to live abroad in exile.
On March 31, 2018, the 140th anniversary of Johnson’s birth, The Bryan Museum hosted an event with well-known community activist leader, Sam Collins, alongside a letter writing campaign requesting a full presidential pardon. We received an overwhelming response from our community, city officials, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, and our local congressional representatives, and in April we mailed those letters to President Trump. These letters represent an effort that has been endorsed repeatedly over the years by the likes of John McCain, Ken Burns, and Harry Reid, and it is with great satisfaction that we greet its success and thank Galveston for helping us add our voice to the torrent supporting Johnson’s pardon.
The Museum plans to host a celebration in honor of Jack Johnson’s long-awaited pardon this Summer. Details to come.