The Political Friendship Between Jackie Robinson and Richard Nixon

Check out this piece in the New York Times by “presidential historian” Michael Beschloss on Jackie Robinson’s political support of Richard Nixon in the election of 1960.  Robinson also campaigned for moderate Republican Nelson Rockefeller in 1964, but could not bring himself to support Barry Goldwater, the eventual GOP nominee. In 1968, he voted for Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey because Nixon courted the support of segregationist Strom Thurmond.  

Here is a taste of Beschloss’s piece:

In 1960, Robinson endorsed Nixon for president, declaring that the civil rights commitment of Nixon’s Democratic rival, John F. Kennedy, was “insincere.” In those times, an African-American Republican was by no means unusual. About 39 percent of black voters had supported the re-election of President Dwight Eisenhower and his vice president.

Jackie withstood intense pressure — including from his wife, Rachel — to follow King’s father in switching from Nixon to Kennedy; he later wrote that his decision had “something to do with stubbornness.” As a result, a ballplayer who had withstood death threats in 1947 to break the major leagues’ color barrier was denounced as a “sellout” and “Uncle Tom.” That November, Nixon won only a third of the African-American vote, a crucial factor in his hairbreadth defeat.

3 thoughts on “The Political Friendship Between Jackie Robinson and Richard Nixon

  1. El cartel de Moscú Replicas de relojes tienda tradicional muestra un marcado color gris pizarra finamente guilloquis mano Relojes Especiales – uno de mucho arte dominado por la fabricación y refleja un patrón único inspirado por la fachada del Kremlin en Moscú. Replica de relojes Además, tenga en cuenta el bisel delgado, el nudo alrededor de la parte inferior de la caja equipada con un cristal de zafiro, índices aplicados de oro blanco 18 quilates y las manos de Dauphine.

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  2. Noted historian of sports and race Amy Bass has weighed in on this at my Facebook page. (Friend me to get into the mix–sometimes the conversation at FB is much better than in the comments section of the blog).–JF

    Here are her comments:

    “This is truncated history; Robinson's conservative viewpoints were not knee-jerk. One of the reasons that Rickey chose him for the “experiment” was that he held no radical worldviews, and would be able to turn the other cheek. His “sellout” and 'Uncle Tom' status, however, broke through when he testified against Paul Robeson in front of HUAC. His speech is so profoundly disturbing that I quote it at length in my first book – you cannot paraphrase it and do it justice (he refers to Robeson as “a siren song sung in bass”). Voting for Nixon was but one small part of Robinson's politics.

    One of the best books on the general concept of early civil rights figures emerging as rather conservative in the more “militant” 1960s is a tiny monograph no one ever talks about anymore that Matt Jacobson gave me a million years ago: *Reaping the Whirlwind* by Robert Norrell. If you think about figures like Robinson and Owens — both of whom are Republicans and “uncle toms” in the 1960s — as the “seeds” and figures like the Panthers as the whirlwind, it all makes a whole lot of sense.

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