He’s maintained his innocence all of this time!
The first Black man to serve on the White House’s Secret Service is finally getting justice after an ordeal that occurred 60 years ago, The Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Abraham Bolden was a rising trailblazer in 1961 when he made history as the first Black Secret Service Agent to serve on a White House detail. Despite the accomplishment, the good feelings were short lived, and it would all come crashing down just months later. When Bolden came to D.C. he says he noticed that some of the agents guarding President John F. Kennedy had a particular laxity that he believed was not only unprofessional, but held racist overtones. When Bolden threatened to expose the agents’ behavior, he was accused of being involved in a bribery and counterfeiting scheme.
The case has been recorded as “offenses related to attempting to sell a copy of a Secret Service file” which Bolden says is an outright lie and trumped up charges to cover up the racism within the U.S. Secret Service at the time. Nonetheless, Bolden was tried for the crime twice, the first resulting in a hung jury and the second trial full of key witnesses who admitted to lying at the request of the prosecutor. Bolden was ultimately convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.
While he ultimately rebuilt his life, maintaining his innocence over the six decades since the ordeal, Bolden still wanted justice, petitioning four presidents to pardon him including Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. Finally, at the age of 87, Biden has issued Bolden a pardon, one of just three so far for the current sitting President.
“When my attorney called me on Monday night and said Biden was going to grant me a pardon, I was elated. It was so long coming. I’m overwhelmed,” said Bolden.
While a pardon is more of a gesture of the President’s forgiveness and does not necessarily denote innocent, Bolden’s son, Daaim Shabazz, an associate professor of global business at Florida A&M University, said his father wants people to know that he is in fact innocent. More importantly, Bolden has waited a long time to clear his good name.
“He called me last night and told me, and I could hear a sigh of relief…He wants people to know that he is innocent. He wants to clear his name…I want people to know his story, what he endured, what he went through, what he struggled to do, and how he maintained his dignity and stood on the truth until the end. If he was not pardoned, the lessons are still great lessons to learn,” said Shabazz.
Bolden went on to live a successful life, raising his children and staying married to his wife for nearly five decades before she passed away. Shabazz says his late siblings and mother would be proud.
“He still succeeded in life. He was still able to maintain a marriage of 49 years and raise three children. Unfortunately, two of my siblings passed away in 2020 and my mother died 15 years ago. They certainly would have been proud that his name was cleared,” Shabazz added.
Despite the length of time that Bolden waited for justice, he said he knew that one day it would come and he just had to keep the faith and remember that “no lie can live forever.”
“It’s been nearly 60 years. I thought it would happen. I knew God was in the plan all along because I had faith that justice would be served. If it weren’t served here, it would be served eventually. I would see it. That’s faith,” said Bolden.
Photo Courtesy of Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times