Congress in the Archives will feature guest posts from our staff. Today’s post come from archivist Adam Berenbak, our resident baseball expert. Happy Opening Day, Washington Nationals fans!
In July of 1949, the House Un-American Activities Committee, or (HUAC), held hearings regarding “communist infiltration of minority groups” in response to comments made by actor and activist Paul Robeson. On the final day of the hearings, Jackie Robinson appeared on behalf of the committee despite his reluctance to participate in political affairs.
Robinson, who was in the middle of an MVP season, delivered an eloquent statement, neither defending nor outright condemning Robeson. He denounced racial discrimination and stated that “talk about ‘Communists stirring up Negroes to protest’ only makes present misunderstanding worse than ever. Negroes were stirred up long before there was a Communist Party, and they’ll stay stirred up long after the party has disappeared — unless Jim Crow has disappeared by then as well.”
Robinson spoke for 20 minutes, and then headed straight from Washington, DC, to Brooklyn, where, in a late afternoon game at Ebbets Field, he hit a triple and stole two bases to lead the Dodgers in victory over the Chicago Cubs.
First Page of Statement of Jackie Robinson before House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), July 18, 1949, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, (NAID 7822182)