Featured Document Display: Jackie Robinson—Freedom Fighter

Thursday, January 27, 2022 - Wednesday, April 20, 2022
East Rotunda Gallery

Jackie Robinson refused to move to the back of the bus

Jackie Robinson was as fierce and determined about fighting injustice as he was about hitting home runs and stealing bases. He took stands against discrimination throughout his life. In fact, a decade before Rosa Parks’s legendary refusal to give up her seat, Jackie Robinson refused to move to the back of a bus. 

Drafted into the Army during World War II, 2nd Lt. Jack R. Robinson was stationed at Camp Hood, Texas, in 1944. Riding a military shuttle, Lieutenant Robinson was ordered to move to the rear by the civilian driver. Robinson explained that the War Department had recently desegregated military buses. But this was the Jim Crow South. The driver called the military police. A crowd gathered. Things escalated. Robinson was charged with insubordination and conduct disrespectful to his superior officer.

Letter from Jackie Robinson to Truman Gibson
2nd Lt. Jack Robinson’s letter regarding the bus incident at Camp Hood, Texas, 1944
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Secretary of War


Banner Image:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with Jackie Robinson on his right, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Convention, 1962 

Image copyright Estate of James Karales, Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York