Educator Resources

Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate

APRIL 20, 1972

Time had taken its toll upon Jackie Robinson. Failing health contributed to the pessimistic tone of this letter to Presidential assistant Roland L. Elliott. In addition to suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and the effects of several heart attacks, his hair had turned almost white, he had lost most of his vision, and he was forced to walk with use of a cane. In addition, the deaths of his baseball mentor, Branch Rickey; his mother; and his first son, Jackie Robinson, Jr., together with the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and John and Bobby Kennedy weighed heavily on him. Further, the escalation of violence on all sides, and the growing radicalization of the civil rights movement , made him fear that wholesale bloodshed between the races was imminent. He died at the age of 53, scarcely 6 months after writing this letter.




Letter to Roland L. Elliott
Click to Enlarge

National Archives and Records Administration
Nixon Presidential Materials
White House Central Files