"I was sitting in the audience at the Summit Meeting of Negro leaders yesterday when you said we must have patience. On hearing you say this, I felt like standing up and saying: 'Oh no! Not again.'
I respectfully remind you sir that we have been the most patient of all people." (Jackie Robinson)
It was 1958 -- eleven years since the first black man officially played in the National Baseball League; four years since the ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education; three years since Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus; and one year since the National Guard escorted nine students to Little Rock High.
Yet, America was still a long way from fulling integrating blacks into white society. Jackie Robinson, who had integrated professional baseball, had just hung up his number 42 jersey. He penned a letter to President Eisenhower indicating his frustration with the civil rights movement, which, after making giant strides, had seemed to stall.
"I was sitting in the audience at the Summit meeting of negro leaders yesterday when you said we must have patience. On hearing you say this, I felt like standing up and saying: 'Oh no! Not again.' (www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/jackie_robinson_letter/). I respectfully remind you sir that we have been the most patient of all people." He pointed out that Negroes were striving to attain goals that Whites had already been granted over 150 years before.
"17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change," implored Robinson. In 1958, Negroes represented about 10 percent of the American population, a significant amount. Robinson wanted actions, not words, for the Civil Rights Movement to move forward.
Robinson saw President Eisenhower's attitude of forbearance as encouraging, not discouraging, the segregationists. He reminded the President about Governor Faubus, who, the previous year, had blocked the school entry of the Little Rock Nine.
The baseball legend drove his point home by stating: "would let it be known that America is determined to provide -- in the near future -- for Negroes -- the freedoms we are entitled to under the Constitution."
Note: For more information about Jackie Robinson, read "You Give Me the Number, I'll Give You the Guts!" at http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2013/04/april-15.html.
Jackie Robinson (right) meets Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders circa 1950's courtesy http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/publication/2009/01/20090106142542jmnamdeirf0.8552515.html#axzz3l0Ucr18M.