Robinson's Fight for Freedom with the NAACP

Jackie's first involvement with the civil rights movement outside of his actions in baseball came through his participation in a fund raising drive for the NAACP in 1957. The Fight for Freedom Fund was a ten year program to raise money for a campain to end segregation by January 1, 1963. This date was chosen because it was the centennial anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Robinson threw himself into his work with tremendous enthusiasm, going on tour to give speeches in support of the NAACP. Though some had worried that such an aggressive baseball player would not submit well to the more delicate situations of public speaking, Jackie proved an able speaker, soon becoming a main attraction rather than one who merely introduces other speakers.

Jackie Robinson with NAACP leaders, Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkins.

Jackie on tour for the Fight for Freedom Fund.

 

Jackie was eager to use his fame in order to help the civil rights movement. He put forward an idea for a $100 a plate dinner for the Freedom Fund, which over fifteen hundred guests attended. However, Jackie did not limit his fundraising and support to the NAACP, but also supported Dr. King's organization, the SCLC, and CORE, as well as neighborhood groups such as the Harlem branch YMCA in New York.

Robinson also participated in many marches and picket lines protesting discrimination. For example, he organized a march to integrate schools that walked through Washington D.C. He was heartened by the success of this march, in that ten thousand students and marchers of all races joined together. However, this march had less impact than he had hoped in that Eisenhower and his aides refused to talk to any of the participants.

Robinson was eventually elected to the board of directors for the NAACP. He continued touring to drum up support and membership, often having to conceal his activities in the South so that individuals whom he approached would not suffer reprisals for associating with the NAACP. When Jackie had first joined, his goal was to increase membership, but he was thwarted by the many anti-civil rights measures being taken in the South which intimidated people and prevented them from joining.

Robinson grew dismayed with the NAACP as he saw it lose momentum due to its conservative bent. He criticized those who would not press more urgently for the advancement of black equality. He said, "I believe they have not done enough to gain the confidence of the little man in the street. The average person is waiting to see the leaders take an aggressive stand." However, Jackie continued to serve the NAACP, despite occasional differences with group leadership.

 

 

Jackie in the Youth March with his son.

 

 

Jackie Robinson with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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