Linda E. Haywood, the great-niece of Jack Johnson, gets a close-up look at a statue of the boxing legend in 2012, during the dedication of a park in Galveston, Tex., named in his honor. (Jennifer Reynolds/the Daily News via AP)

The Every Student Succeeds Act is before Congress and is expected to replace No Child Left Behind as the newest version of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, an overarching law that defines federal involvement in K-12 education. The House passed the legislation last week, and the Senate is expected to follow suit this week. President Obama has said he would sign the bill into law.

The bill is more than 1,000 pages long and contains detailed language about funding and programs about education — but there is one unexpected item in it: a posthumous pardon of John Arthur “Jack” Johnson,  the first African American to hold the title of world heavyweight boxing champion, a feat he accomplished during the Jim Crow era.

The legislation describes him as a “flamboyant, defiant, and controversial figure in the history of the United States who challenged racial biases” and was convicted on a racially based charge of immoral behavior. According to Education Week, some lawmakers have been pushing for a pardon of Johnson for years, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Here it is, straight from the legislation:



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