Below is an excerpt from baseball great Jackie Robinson’s autobiography.
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson turned a page in history when he became the first African American player to cross baseball’s “color barrier” and play in the Major Leagues in 1947. Robinson played 10 stellar seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers before retiring from a Hall of Fame career.
After baseball Robinson went to work for Chock Full O’ Nuts as a spokesman then continued his efforts to advance civil rights. He became actively involved in the campaign for Republican candidate Richard Nixon in the 1960 Presidential elections. Robinson opted to support Nixon over John F. Kennedy because he liked the work that Nixon had done in the area of civil rights during Nixon’s years as Vice President. However Robinson later described his regret on having supported Nixon.
Two incidents during the 1960 campaign were quite disillusioning to Robinson. In one incident Nixon was asked to comment on a statement by running mate Henry Cabot Lodge who stated that in a Nixon Administration a black would be named to the Cabinet; Nixon commented that Lodge was speaking on his own behalf. Later during the campaign Nixon refused to speak out when civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was locked in a full-security prison for a minor motor vehicle infraction.
Further Nixon refused to campaign in Harlem (while Kennedy did). These incidents drew Robinson a great deal of criticism from the African American community for his support of the Nixon campaign. By the end of the campaign the Kennedy ticket was looking more attractive to Robinson, but he had already committed to Nixon.
Jackie Robinson did establish good ties with New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (who later became Gerald Ford’s Vice President). Robinson supported Rockefeller’s bid during the 1964 Republican Primiaries. However after the GOP ticket went to Barry Goldwater, Robinson was disgusted at what he saw during the 1964 Republican National Convention. (Read more…)