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And we were rewarded with one of the most satisfying, gratifying exhibits that I've seen in a long, long time. Not only is the art "beautiful," but whoever arranged this exhibit knows what they're doing - the pieces are placed so that the viewer is mesmerized from the moment of entry, and is drawn further-and-further into a world of comparative African / American art. Look at these juxtapositions here, and here, and here.

One thing I realized, the longer I was inside the exhibition, was not only that a great deal of attendees were of color, but their perspectives of artworks were completely different than my own. Click on that third link, for example, and go to the bottom-left of the page - look at the piece called "Cuts." When I saw it, I *immediately* thought of surgical scars; ten minutes later, a docent was leading a tour, and she came up to this work, and told her almost-all-black audience, "Now this one may be difficult for you to see," and I thought to myself, 'Why difficult? OHHHHHHH!!!!!,' and that was my moment of awakening - the unbelievably different perspective that white people and black people have about the very same piece of art. Seriously, I matured in a matter of two seconds when I realized how narrow-mindedly I was looking at that piece.

And now page up on that same webpage, to the second piece down on the right, "From Slavery to Champ I." The docent asked if anyone knew who was pictured, and I immediately volunteered, "Jack Johnson," who was the first black heavyweight champion. I had seen that piece about ten minutes earlier, but what I hadn't seen is that Johnson is standing atop a schematic of a slave ship, and has a halo around his head. As patently obvious as that might be, I simply didn't notice those details until the docent spoke of them, because I had been walking through too quickly.

The painting I refer to above is here: nmafa-148.jpg

"Jack Johnson, World's First Black Boxing Champion, was Jailed Under Jim Crow. Will He Get a Posthumous Pardon?" by Sarah Kaplan on washingtonpost.com

Please read the above story.

My contention is based on these simple three words: "It's about race." If you buy that, please keep reading in earnest; if you don't, I value and welcome your differing opinions.

Jack Johnson was the child of former slaves, and rose to become the world's first black Heavyweight Boxing Champion. The article goes into sufficient detail about his life where I don't need to (I absolutely *love* the story of him giving the officer a $100 bill - it's great!)

There is no question in *my* mind that, yes, "It's about race," and Jack Johnson should receive a full Presidential pardon.


I believe that pardon needs to come from a white President, not President Obama.

Before you launch into me, hear me out. If it's about race, what "good" does it do, in terms of advancing race relations, for a black President to pardon Jack Johnson? Yes, it would right a wrong on an individual level, and yes, black people have every right to say, "We don't *want* help from white people." I understand and agree with both of those sentiments.

But for the mending between our races to move forward, we need to have a white person (I fell into the trap of typing "white man" before correcting myself) pardon Mr. Johnson for reasons that are, in my eyes, obvious. No white people would be able to accuse "some black President of taking care of one of his own"; they'd be forced to come to terms with reality, although I can easily see some residual racists claiming that "it's a liberal that dun' it." This has nothing to do with liberal or conservative, but it *does* have to do with race. A very credible, logical argument can also be made that the real issue is that it has less to do with race than it does the most basic tenet of all: "right vs. wrong," and I have no logical argument against that (nor would I *want* to argue against that).

So, without getting long-winded, if President Obama doesn't pardon Jack Johnson, I propose that our next President does, and everything and everyone (society, race relations, black people, white people, Mr. Johnson's descendents, and most importantly, Mr. Johnson's Legacy) will benefit the most from his pardon being issued by a white President; my only sadness is that he wouldn't be around to see it, but most great recognitions in this world occur posthumously.

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Read this post for the backstory of my having included this comic here, and never let it be said that I take myself too seriously!

The pardon of Jack Johnson, however, is a serious issue which deserves a more credible spokesman than I could ever hope to be.


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