Thoughts on The Jackie Robinson PBS Mini-Series - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Thoughts on The Jackie Robinson PBS Mini-Series
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On Monday & Tuesday night, I watched both parts of Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson mini-series on PBS.

I was already familiar with most of Robinson’s biography, but was fascinated with the light shed on his post-playing career particularly his political involvement with the Republican Party.

Of course, I knew Robinson supported Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election, but did not realize the contempt in which he held John F. Kennedy. Robinson was even less impressed after meeting with JFK who told him he hadn’t met with many black people by virtue of being from Massachusetts. An angry Robinson told JFK it was his job as a Senator to meet with all Americans. Robinson was also appalled at JFK’s selection of Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. During his time as Senate Majority Leader, LBJ had shown little interest in civil rights which was typical of Southern Democrats of that era.

Robinson would eventually sour on Nixon due to his refusal to intercede on behalf of the jailed Martin Luther King, Jr. So too would Robinson sour on the Republican Party when it nominated Barry Goldwater. At this point, Robinson’s emnity towards LBJ dissolved as he worked to get the Civil Rights Act passed. There was a clip of a speech Robinson made in New York in which he called Goldwater “a bigot”. Although Goldwater did oppose the Civil Rights Act, it is a curious claim given Goldwater’s membership in his local chapter of the NAACP in Phoenix and the role he would play in desegregating the city’s public schools in 1953, a year before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decisionBut Robinson was the very definition of a Rockefeller Republican eventually becoming an adviser to the New York Governor. 

While Robinson didn’t appreciate the conservative direction of the GOP, he also didn’t appreciate the Black Power Movement & they did not appreciate him. Malcolm X and later the Black Panthers considered Robinson an “Uncle Tom” who was a tool of Branch Rickey and Nelson Rockefeller. When Robinson’s daughter Sharon put up a poster of Huey Newton in her bedroom, Jackie would tell her, “Not in my house!”

It was good to see Jackie’s Dodger teammates Don Newcombe, Ralph Branca and Carl Erskine as well as Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully and Boys of Summer author Roger Kahn interviewed. Branca is 90, Erskine and Newcombe turn 90 later this year while Scully & Kahn are the baby brothers at 88 while Jackie’s widow Rachel is 93. Good to see that the people who knew him best are still around to share their experiences with us first hand. 

I could have done without seeing President Obama and Michelle Obama. Yes, I why Burns included them being the good liberal he is. While I understand the logic in going from the first black MLB player to first black President & First Lady neither had anything really important to say. Of course, when I think of President Obama I think of the man who referred to his own grandmother as a “typical white person” as if there was such a thing. Or Mrs. Obama not being proud of her country until her husband was nominated to run for President or accusing an elderly woman of racism when she had the nerve to ask the 5, 11 First Lady to grab something off a high shelf at a Target store

Jackie Robinson carried the sort of burdens not conducive to living a long life. He would be dead at 53. But he would do more in those years than most do in 100. Because of Jackie Robinson baseball became a better sport and America became a better country.

 

 

 

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