Dodgers Connection with Martin Luther King Jr.
In honor of today being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I thought it was important to reflect on his friendship with Dodger great, Jackie Robinson.
Martin Luther King Jr. transformed the world with his Civil Rights movement. Jackie Robinson transformed the world of sports by breaking the color barrier in the MLB on April 15, 1947. Both of these men have played pivotal roles in creating the world as we know it today, but what many people do not know is they were close friends.
In September of 1962, Robinson was invited to speak at the Southern Christian Leadership Council’s annual Freedom Dinner in Birmingham, Alabama. Jackie passionately shared his feelings towards the racial prejudices that existed in all nine pages of his speech that evening.
According to an article published by the Pasadena-Star News, Robinson was in attendance for the March on Washington on August 29, 1963. He even brought all three of his children to come and support MLKJ.
Robinson knew exactly what MLKJ was fighting for. Everyday arriving at the ballpark provided challenges simply because of his race. Jackie knww what that discrimination felt like on and off the field. Growing up in Pasadena, California, the Robinson family was one of the few African American families in the neighborhood. Jackie knew what it was like being the only African American man on the field as well as on the block.
Robinson praised MLKJ who was making a stand of equality, just as he was trying to do in baseball.
"“I sort of wondered why people would stoop to talk about him. Then I realized that the world has always talked against great men. The best way to keep from getting talked about is to do nothing.”"
Jackie Robinson was not the only former Dodger who supported and loved Martin Luther King Jr. In an article with Time News Magazine, Don Newcombe releftec upon the time MLKJ visited him at his home in Los Angeles.
"“This was 28 days before he was assassinated. He said to me, ‘Don, I don’t know what I would’ve done without you guys setting up the minds of people for change. You, Jackie, and Roy will never know how easy you made it for me to do my job.’ Can you imagine that? How easy we made it for Martin Luther King!”"
MLKJ believed that Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella all opened the door for people to being accepting equality for all races. There is no denying the importance of MLKJ on our world today. Every January it is an honor to celebrate his courage. There is also no denying the impact Jackie Robinson had on Major League Baseball. He is the reason that every April 15th players take the field wearing number 42. Each of these men challenged America to look beyond their judgments and love others. Without their courage and determination, who knows where we would be today.