Friday, December 11, 2009
Jack Johnson, Celebrity athlete..... & White Women/wives
Johnson opened a night club in Harlem; he sold it three years later to a gangster, Owney Madden, who renamed it the Cotton Club.
Johnson constantly flouted conventions regarding the social and economic "place" of Blacks in American society. As a Black man, he broke a powerful taboo in consorting with White women, and would constantly and arrogantly verbally taunt men (both white and black) inside and outside the ring. Johnson was pompous about his affection for white women, and imperious about his physical prowess, both in and out of the ring. Asked the secret of his staying power by a reporter who had watched a succession of women parade into, and out of, the champion's hotel room, Johnson supposedly said "Eat jellied eels and think distant thoughts
Johnson was married three times. All of his wives were white, a fact that caused considerable controversy at the time.
Johnson married Etta Terry Duryea. A Brooklyn socialite, she met Johnson at a car race in 1909. Their romantic involvement was very turbulent. Beaten many times by Johnson and suffering from severe depression, she committed suicide in September 1912, shooting herself with a revolver
Less than three months later, on 4 December 1912, Johnson married Lucille Cameron. After Johnson married Cameron, two ministers in the South recommended that Johnson be lynched. Cameron divorced him in 1924 because of infidelity.
The next year, Johnson married Irene Pineau. When asked by a reporter at Johnson's funeral what she had loved about him, she replied, "I loved him because of his courage. He faced the world unafraid. There wasn't anybody or anything he feared." Johnson had no children.
On October 18, 1912, Johnson was arrested on the grounds that his relationship with Lucille Cameron violated the Mann Act against "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes" due to her being a prostitute. Cameron, soon to become his second wife, refused to cooperate and the case fell apart. Less than a month later, Johnson was arrested again on similar charges. This time the woman, another prostitute named Belle Schreiber with whom he had been involved in 1909 and 1910, testified against him, and he was convicted by a jury in June 1913. The conviction was despite the fact that the incidents used to convict him took place prior to passage of the Mann Act. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Johnson skipped bail, and left the country, joining Lucille in Montreal on June 25, before fleeing to France. For the next seven years, they lived in exile in Europe, South America and Mexico. Johnson returned to the U.S. on 20 July 1920. He surrendered to Federal agents at the Mexican border and was sent to the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth to serve his sentence. He was released on July 9, 1921.
There have been recurring proposals to grant Johnson a posthumous Presidential pardon. A bill requesting President George W. Bush to pardon Johnson in 2008, passed the House, but a companion bill, sponsored by John McCain, failed to pass in the Senate. In April 2009, McCain, along with Representative Peter King, filmmaker Ken Burns and Johnson's great niece, Linda Haywood, requested a presidential pardon for Johnson from President Barack Obama. On July 30, 2009 the Jack Johnson Resolution passed urging Barack Obama to give Johnson a Full Pardon