Jackie Robinson: Using sport as a platform for civic activism

To the average man in the average American community, Jackie Robinson was just what the sports pages said he was, no more, no less. He was the first Negro to play baseball in the major leagues. Everybody knew that. . . . In remembering him, I tend to de-emphasize him as a ball player and emphasize him as an informal civil rights leader. That’s the part that drops out, that people forget.

-Rachel Robinson


Jackie Robinson was a hero of Arthur Ashe, the men shared similar views on the importance of the civil rights movement and using sport as a platform to do greater good. In the letter to the left, dated April 17, 1967, Jackie Robinson addresses President Lyndon B. Johnson. He openly states his concern about Dr. King’s open opposition toward the Vietnam War (although he clearly agrees with his sentiment), applauds the president’s accomplishments in the arena of civil rights thus far and urges him to stay the course and “press for justice for all Americans…”

This is only one of many letters Robinson wrote to presidential administrations throughout his lifetime. To view more letters and telegrams, visit the following link: 

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