DATELINE: Rocky & Jack Johnson
We are always delighted to see movie history made, whether it’s an archeological dig looking for the lost set of Cecil B. DeMille’s silent Ten Commandments or joining Kenneth Anger looking for Hollywood dirt.
So, this week we had the spectacle of President Donald Trump giving a pardon to long-dead, champion black boxer Jack Johnson, a turn-of-the-century victim of racism. He was convicted of committing the Mann Act, taking a white woman across state lines for sexual purposes. It was the moral equivalent of taking a knee at an NFL football game.
No, Trump did not offer Colin Kaepernick a pardon. Wait a hundred years for that.
Sylvester Stallone has made it a personal cause to have Johnson exonerated with a presidential pardon. Barack Obama never did the trick, but Donald Trump was Johnny on the Spot, ready to offer a pardon when he heard Obama dropped the ball.
So, hungry for anything to keep the news off his soon to be pardoned family members Don, Jr., Ivanka, and Kushner, the often-labeled racist president invited Stallone to the White House for the big pardon.
Ken Burns who directed a 2004 documentary on Jack Johnson also was a no-show.
No one told Stallone or dumb-bell Trump that a pardon infers guilt. And those who accept pardons usually accept their guilty role. Oh, well, let’s not quibble.
We also thought it interesting that Trump is the Great White Hope to pardon black athletes when he wants to throw them out of the country for exercising free speech.
No, the man who made a career out of playing Jack Johnson, James Earl Jones, did not show up at the pardoning ceremony.
The star of the Great White Hope on Broadway and movies, was conspicuous by his absence.