Revisiting Jackie Robinson’s Republican Roots and How He Confronted White Supremacy and Racism with Dignity and Class

In this Oct. 4, 1960, photograph, baseball legend Jackie Robinson stands with then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon (right) during a campaign stop in New Jersey. | Source: Bettmann / Getty

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers, forever changing baseball and society.

Robinson was Black, and the integration of all-white major league baseball was perhaps the most important story about civil rights in the years immediately following World War II.

The integration, Jules Tygiel wrote in his groundbreaking book “Baseball’s Great Experiment,” “captured the imagination of millions of Americans who had previously ignored the nation’s racial dilemma.”

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As Martin Luther King Jr. famously put it, Robinson “was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.”

Major League Baseball celebrates the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s historic career on April 15, 2022, in stadiums and ballparks across the nation.

But in my view, those celebrations will fall short if they don’t address how Robinson confronted white supremacy with class and dignity during a time before he joined the Dodgers, when his own minor league manager once asked, “Do you really think a nigra is a human being?”

I’ve written or edited four books about Jackie Robinson. When I give a lecture or a talk about him, I often mention that he was a Republican.

Given the modern-day opposition that the Republican Party has toward civil and voting rights protections – and the teaching of racism in American history – this invariably provokes an audible gasp from the audience.

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SOURCE: NewsOne, Chris Lamb

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