The Forgotten Civil Rights History of Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson
Abeni Jones
January 29, 2020

Jackie Robinson’s role in integrating Major League Baseball was, well, major.

But that’s not all this legend should be remembered for.

Before he played sports professionally, Robinson was drafted into the Army during World War II. But in 1944, he was “court-martialed” for refusing to give up his seat on a bus to a white soldier.

He was acquitted, but the experience stayed with him.

Many think that Robinson integrated baseball because he was the best player around.

In fact, when he was approached to join the Dodgers, they specifically wanted someone “with guts enough not to fight back” against the racism he would surely experience. Robinson was committed to the message non-violence could send.

Robinson’s stance as an athlete-activist is often forgotten, despite how it mirrors the activism of many athletes today: "I cannot stand and sing the National Anthem… I remain a black in a white world,” he said.

He publicly wrote letters to every American President, urging Civil Rights action. But that’s not all.

He served on the board of the NAACP, worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., helped found a Black-owned bank, and started a construction company to build low-income housing for Black people.

Don’t let anyone tell you Jackie Robinson’s story is just about baseball. He was forever dedicated to his people and used his platform for Black liberation!

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