Jackie Robinson - Refused to Move to the Back of the Bus
Serving as an Army 2nd Lieutenant, during World War II, Jackie Robinson - who later broke "the color line" of Major League Baseball - refused to move to the back of a bus after returning from a visit to the black officers' club at Camp Hood (now Ft. Hood), near Waco, Texas.
In this little-known incident, which took place on July 6, 1944, Robinson was extremely upset about how he - an Army officer - had been treated. After all the raucus, including Robinson's defense of his actions to local Army officials, people in authority decided to court-martial him.
Concerned about the situation, and worried how it might impact his future, Robinson wrote a letter to Truman Gibson, a civilian assistant to the Secretary of War (and part of FDR's so-called "Black Cabinet"). In his letter, dated 16 July 1944, Robinson describes the facts of the incident (and what followed thereafter).
Among other things, Robinson was seeking Gibson's advice on a key point: Should he report what was happening to the "Negro Press" and to the NAACP?
This image depicts the first page of Robinson's letter. Click on the image for a clearer view.
Image of 16 July 1944 letter from Lt. Jack Robinson to Truman Gibson - page 1 - from Records of the Office of the Secretary of War, RG 107. Online courtesy U.S. National Archives.
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