President Obama Pardons Freedom Rider Sala Udin 44 Years After Conviction

Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Another day of celebration courtesy of President Obama.

Nearly five decades after his civil rights era conviction, former Pittsburgh City Council member and founder of the African-American Culture Center in Pittsburgh, Sala Udin, has officially been pardoned by President Obama.

While he had long made amends for the charge of carrying a firearm across state lines, the conviction was a cloud hoovering over Udin for the next 44 years. Udin has always acknowledged his guilt ,but stated in his petition to the Justice Department that it was a risk he was willing to take.

RELATED: President Obama Grants 231 Pardons And Commutations, The Most Ever In A Single Day

“I concluded that I would rather be caught by the police with defensive weapons than to be caught by the Klan without them,” he said. Udin also told Yahoo! News that he had given up on the pardon, fearing that his $500 contribution to the President’s election campaign may cause allegations of a political scandal.

“I don’t want to say or do anything that would cause a problem for President Obama,” he added. “I love him. If that’s the reason, I’ll accept it. I just don’t want it to be for any other reason.”

RELATED: Obama Pardons 8 Nonviolent Drug Offenders

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After receiving his second chance, Udin is ready to put the past behind him.

“I’m still pinching myself because this has been such a long time,” he said. “I just needed that last acknowledgement from someone that that bad time in my life is over.”

President Obama granted clemency to 231 individuals – the most for a sitting president granted in a single day. As of today, President Obama has pardoned or commuted the sentences of 1,324 prisoners. 

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