Kennedy and Nixon Both Wooed Jackie Robinson. Guess Who Won.

In his autobiography, Robinson recalled: “I used to be within the behind-the-scenes wrestle to steer Dick Nixon to specific his concern for Dr. King, however apparently his most trusted advisors have been counseling him to not rock the racial boat. Add to this incontrovertible fact that Mr. Nixon refused to marketing campaign in Harlem as his opponent did, and it’s straightforward to know why blacks overwhelmingly voted for Kennedy.”

Regardless of his anger with Nixon, Robinson resisted entreaties from his spouse and pals to change sides.

“It’s onerous to clarify why I caught, disillusioned as I used to be,” he wrote. “It had one thing to do with stubbornness about persevering with to need to imagine in folks even when all the pieces signifies that they’re now not worthy of help.” He mentioned he clung to the hope that Nixon would comply with via on what he mentioned at their assembly as soon as the stress of the marketing campaign was over.

Nixon misplaced and Robinson started to heat to President Kennedy after initially calling him out for a scarcity of progress on civil rights. Following Kennedy’s assassination, Robinson nonetheless supported a Republican, albeit a average one, for president in 1964 — Rockefeller, the New York governor — however this time along with his eyes a bit extra open.

“I wasn’t about to be taken in immediately by the Nelson Rockefeller appeal,” Robinson mentioned. “In spite of everything, Richard Nixon had turned the appeal on me too (though his is a little more brittle in contrast with Rockefeller’s) and look how that had labored out.”

And Robinson made a distinction between Rockefeller and the remainder of the GOP: “I used to be not as offered on the Republican social gathering as I used to be on the governor. Each likelihood I bought, whereas I used to be campaigning, I mentioned plainly what I considered the right-wing Republicans and the hurt they have been doing.”

Round this time, Robinson was additionally calling out Black militants similar to Malcolm X, together with in a November 1963 Chicago Defender column. Malcolm X replied in a Dec. 7 column in the identical publication, addressed to “Expensive Good Buddy, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson”:

Aren’t you an identical ex-baseball participant who tried to “mislead” Negroes in Nixon’s camp over the last presidential election? Evidently, you have been the one Negro who voted for Nixon, as a result of in accordance with the polls taken afterward, only a few Negroes have been dumb sufficient to comply with your “mislead.” … You by no means quit. You are actually making an attempt to guide Negroes into Nelson Rockefeller’s camp.

Robinson went to the ’64 Republican Nationwide Conference in San Francisco as a particular delegate, which he referred to as “one of the unforgettable and scary experiences of my life.” These have been significantly hanging phrases from a person who had endured demise threats, hate mail and different abuse after debuting with the Dodgers in 1947.

“A brand new breed of Republican had taken over the GOP,” he wrote. “As I watched this steamroller operation in San Francisco, I had a greater understanding of the way it should have felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.”

When he cheered on his candidate — shouting “‘C’mon, Rocky!’” — an indignant Alabama delegate turned “menacingly” towards him, however the man’s spouse held him again. Robinson, who early in his profession was pressured to show the opposite examine within the face of white infielders spiking him and white pitchers throwing at his head, had no such restraints now: “‘Flip him free, girl, flip him free!’ I shouted. I used to be prepared for him. I needed him badly, however fortunately for him he obeyed his spouse.”

The Republicans nominated archconservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, who had voted towards the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He’d additionally written off the Black vote, saying, “We’re not going to get the Negro vote as a bloc in 1964 or 1968, so we must go looking the place the geese are.” Robinson denounced him as a bigot and joined “Republicans for Johnson” — working to reelect Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, who gained in a landslide.

In 1966, Robinson went to work for Rockefeller as a particular assistant to the governor for neighborhood affairs, then backed him once more within the 1968 presidential election, when Nixon staged a comeback. California Gov. Ronald Reagan challenged each candidates from the appropriate, and when Robinson heard about experiences of a potential Rockefeller-Reagan ticket to dam Nixon, he informed the New York governor he might by no means help that.

With fun, Rockefeller replied: “It’s best to have heard the onerous time I had explaining you to Reagan.”

After Republicans nominated Nixon for president, Robinson mentioned he realized that the social gathering didn’t care about him or his folks.

“The Republican Social gathering has informed the black man to go to hell. I supply to them the same invitation,” Robinson wrote in his “Nixon Candidacy Imperils America” column, printed by the Chicago Defender in 1968.

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