Promoting Civil Rights in

the Military

Jackie Robinson served his country as a second lieutenant in the United States army until 1944. On one fateful day, the sixth of July 1944, second lieutenant Robinson boarded a military bus near Fort Hood, Texas. The driver of the military bus ordered Robinson to "get to the back of the bus where the colored people belong."

Robinson refused to move. He was aware of his rights; military buses had been desegregated, at least officially. Robinson was escorted to a guardhouse by military police where his defiance continued. Robinson wanted to know if he were under arrest, would not be seated when told to sit, and questioned the right of a civilian stenographer to take the statement of an army officer. When a white army private called him a "nigger", Robinson threatened to "break him in two" if he did it once more.

Robinson's commanding officer refused to sign the orders for a court-martial, and Robinson was transferred to another army unit. He was subsequently charged with insubordination, disturbing the peace, drunkenness, conduct unbecoming an officer, insulting a civilian, and refusing to obey the lawful orders of a superior.

Most of those fraudulent charges were dropped quickly, and yet Jackie was made to stand trial on the charge of insubordination. While Robinson's accusers contradicted themselves repeatedly in front of a military court, Robinson's former commanding officer praised him as a fine officer who he wanted by his side in combat.

Jackie Robinson was found not guilty of insubordination by nine judges after only a few minutes deliberation and he was later honorably discharged from the military.

After being discharged from the US army, Jackie went on to a brief stint in the Negro Leagues and the Minor Leagues before breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947. While in the Minor Leagues, Robinson continued to show through his words and actions his committement to improving American Civil Rights.