Jackie Robinson: Hero on the Field and on the Battlefield

By Ortiz, Aimee | The Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2013 | Go to article overview

Jackie Robinson: Hero on the Field and on the Battlefield


Ortiz, Aimee, The Christian Science Monitor


Jackie Robinson, known for breaking the color line in baseball and his impressive record on the field, was also one of the first civil rights fighters. The first black baseball player since the 1880s, Mr. Robinson would go on to confront political officials, players, and even the US military.

The year was 1942. A fresh-faced Robinson had just been drafted into the army. Assigned to the segregated Army Cavalry in Fort Riley, Kan., Robinson applied to the Officer Candidate School. Despite his qualifications, it would be months before he was admitted. By 1943, Robinson graduated and was commissioned second lieutenant.

Lt. Robinson was then reassigned to Fort Hood, Texas, where he joined the ranks of the 761 Black Panthers Tank Battalion. He would remain there until an incident in 1944 that would change his entire career.

Robinson had a history of being hotheaded with racists. His biography is chock full of anecdotes about how he, even at a young age, fought back against racism.

In July 6,1944, Robinson boarded a bus leaving the hospital where he had been awaiting test results. When he sat down, the Southwestern Bus Company bus driver Milton Reneger told Robinson to move to the back of the bus. Robinson refused, telling Reneger to focus on driving.

When the bus arrived at its destination, Robinson and Reneger continued to argue. By the time military police arrived, a crowd had formed. The MPs, none of which outranked Robinson, asked him to go with them to headquarters in order to straighten out the matter.

Back at headquarters, he threatened to break in two anyone that called him derogatory slurs. Robinson argued about the incident on the bus but was met with resistance.

This event would lead to Robinsons transfer to the 758 Battalion. His previous commanding officer would not authorize a court-martial but upon transferring, Robinson was charged with multiple offenses, among them were showing disrespect to a superior, failure to obey a command, and public drunkenness. …

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