As Linda Haywood was pumping gas last month, her cousin called with a jarring question: Had she heard about President Trump’s tweet?
It was not one of his typical tirades against political foes. The tweet said the president was considering a “full pardon” for Jack Johnson, who in 1908 became the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion but whose legacy was tarnished by a racially charged conviction four years later for transporting a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.” The woman was his girlfriend and future wife, who was white.
The tweet was a jolt to Haywood. She says Johnson is her great-great-uncle, and she has been waging a yearslong campaign to clear his name.