June 8, 2014


Jackie Robinson and Nixon: Life and Death of a Political Friendship (MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, June 6, 2014, NY Times)

Although Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson championed what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Robinson quit his executive job at Chock Full o'Nuts that spring to campaign for Gov. Nelson Rockefeller of New York, a Republican, explaining that "we must work for a two-party system, as far as the Negro is concerned."

But Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, who opposed the 1964 legislation as unconstitutional. When Rockefeller denounced political extremism at the party's San Francisco convention, Robinson, a "special delegate," shouted, "C'mon, Rocky!" As Robinson recalled, an Alabama delegate "turned on me menacingly" before "his wife grabbed his arm and turned him back."

Spoiling for a fight, Jackie cried, "Turn him loose, lady, turn him loose!" He later wrote with uncharacteristic overstatement that on leaving San Francisco, "I had a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler's Germany."

That fall, Robinson joined the 94 percent of the African-American electorate that backed President Johnson. (Since then, the percentage of the black vote for Democratic presidential nominees has never dipped below the low 80s.) In 1968, furious over Nixon's courtship of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who had once led the segregationist "Dixiecrats," Jackie backed the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey.

It doesn't matter that Nixon was the most liberal president ther than LBJ we've ever had; the damage was done.

Posted by at June 8, 2014 1:28 PM

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