1949 July 18

Baseball Great Jackie Robinson Called to Testify Before HUAC

 

Baseball great Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in baseball on April 15, 1947, was called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on this day. The request that he testify was prompted by comments critical of U.S. foreign policy by African-American singer and left-wing political activist Paul Robeson earlier in the year (see August 4, 1950). Members of HUAC and other anti-Communists wanted to counter his remarks with a profession of loyalty to America by a prominent African-American. Robinson was treated gingerly by HUAC because of his status as a baseball hero, and he maintained his integrity by making a strong statement on civil rights (see below).

After his testimony, Robinson took the train back to New York City and led the Brooklyn Dodgers to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs that night. In one at bat, he walked, stole second, advanced to third on throwing error, and then stole him. Clearly, he was not intimidated or rattled by HUAC.

Robinson to HUAC: “The white public should start toward real understanding by appreciating that every single Negro who is worth his salt is going to resent any kind of slurs and discrimination because of his race, and he is going to use every bit of intelligence such as he has to stop it. This has got absolutely nothing to do with what Communists may or may not be trying to do.”

Learn more: Arnold Rampersad, Jackie Robinson: A Biography (1997)

Watch Robinson’s HUAC testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN9dPSRtyLQ

Read Anne Braden’s critique of HUAC racism: Anne Braden, HUAC: Bulwark of Segregation (1964)

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