JACKIE ROBINSON COURT MARTIALED FOR SITTING
NEXT TO A BLACK WOMAN
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was an American professional baseball second baseman who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era, but Jackie Robinson had a Rosa Parks moment of his own long before he broke the race barrier in baseball
Three years before he became the first black man to play in major league baseball, and more than a decade before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat, Jackie Robinson had a Rosa Parks moment of his own. Lieutenant Robinson, as he was known in 1944, was serving in the U.S. Army at one of the worst posts for black men — Camp Hood. Located outside of Waco, Texas, the area’s residents were infamously hostile to servicemen of colour.
On the evening of July 6, Lieutenant Robinson boarded a Southwestern Bus Company bus and took a seat next to a fellow officer’s fair-skinned wife, who was in fact African American. The driver believed the woman was white and, this being 1944, told Robinson to get to the back. Robinson, whose military career had been exemplary up that point, refused to move and told the driver to focus on his driving instead.
His response didn’t go over well. The men argued all the way to Robinson’s stop, where the bus dispatcher got involved, calling Robinson… well, you can probably guess what he called him. An angry crowd of racist civilians and military police officers formed around the bus.
A woman threatened to press charges against the future number 42. The prevalence of lynching in Texas must have been on his mind, but Robinson showed no signs of fear. One of the military policemen urged him to head to the police station with him, so they could sort the matter out in a relatively saner setting. Robinson agreed, but when they got there, another white officer ran up to the car and asked if they had “the nigger lieutenant.” Robinson told the men that he would “break in two” the next person to use that word.
Thirteen depositions were taken alleging that Robinson had behaved badly and he was court-martialed over the matter. Fearing that he wouldn’t get a fair trial, he wrote to the secretary of war’s civilian aide, asking for advice. “I don’t want any unfavorable publicity for myself or the army,” he wrote, “but I believe in fair play.” By some stroke of luck, Robinson was acquitted of all charges.
Clancy's comment: Go, Jackie! Love ya work! I admire those who stand up for the issues they shouldn't have to stand up for, but by so doing, they change the world for the better.