The latest Ken Burns documentary to be released was Jackie Robinson, a four-hour, 2-DVD set. This film not only recounts the Baseball Hall of Famer’s oft-covered 1947 season when he broke the color line as a rookie playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but his post-sports life as a civil rights advocate and his involvement with the national political scene. Burns’ daughter Sarah, who served as a director and producer with her father and David McMahon for this project and wrote it along with the latter, gained a newer perspective on Robinson while editing down 14 hours of footage and doing extensive research into his non-baseball life. Here are five of the more intriguing facts about Jackie Robinson she came across that most people are unaware of.
He stood up to segregation in Pasadena, CA as a teenager: he moved down from the segregated balcony of the movie theater onto the main floor, and when the staff behind a Woolworth’s lunch counter was reluctant to serve him, he stayed on his stool until someone did.
Second Lieutenant Jack Robinson was court-martialed for insubordination after refusing to move to the back of a military bus in Fort Hood, TX, in 1944. He was acquitted by an all-white panel of officers.
Jackie Robinson initially campaigned for Richard Nixon for president in 1960 and didn’t trust John F. Kennedy to be a champion for civil rights. Robinson later rescinded his support for Nixon.
Robinson (second from left) was a special delegate to the 1964 Republican convention, but ultimately voted to reelect President Johnson when Barry Goldwater became the Republican nominee.
He published a column in the black-run Pittsburgh Courier called “Jackie Robinson Says” that ran during his rookie season. He later had a column in the New York Post from 1959 to 1960.
Learn more about the great Jackie Robinson in Digging Deeper: Jackie Robinson’s Post-Baseball Life.