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Lot # 1218 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1949 Draft of Jackie Robinson's Speech Before the House Un-American Activities Committee

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $1,304

On July 18, 1949, Jackie Robinson was asked to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in response to comments made by Paul Robeson, who allegedly stated a few months earlier that African Americans would be reluctant to fight on behalf of the USA against the USSR. Offered here is four-page typed draft of the speech Robinson made at the hearing. Each of the pages displays editorial pencil marks, including crossing out of lines and the movement of certain passages within the text. Another, very similar, draft of this speech offered at public auction by Lelands in 2005 that was consigned directly from the Robinson family archives (which at that time sold for $3,400); it is a virtual certainty that this draft originates from that very same source, given its similarities. Robinson spoke strongly on the issues of racial equality in his speech, which he began by stating “I don’t pretend to be any expert on communism or any other kind of a political ‘ism. But you can put me down as an expert at being a colored American, with thirty years of experience at it.” He then addressed the subject at hand. In part:

The white public should start toward real understanding by appreciating that every single Negro who is worth his salt is going to resent any kind of slurs and discrimination because of his race, and he is going to use every bit of intelligence such as he has to stop it. This has got absolutely nothing to do with what Communists may or may not be trying to do. And white people must realize that the more a Negro hates communism because it opposes democracy, the more he is going to hate any other influence that kills off democracy in this country-and that goes for racial discrimination in the Army, and segregation on trains and buses, and job discrimination because of religious beliefs or color or place of birth.

And one other thing the American public ought to understand, if we are to make progress in this matter: The fact that it is a Communist who denounces injustice in the courts, police brutality, and lynching when it happens doesn’t change the truth of his charges. Just because Communists kick up a big fuss over racial discrimination when it suits their purposes, a lot of people try to pretend that the whole issue is a creation of Communist imagination.

But they are not fooling anyone with this kind of pretense, and 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.

Each page of the draft (8 x 13 inches) is toned and displays a horizontal fold, as well as small areas of dark discoloration along the top border. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. The pages have been matted and framed together with two typewritten cards (providing the historical context of the speech) to total dimensions of 44 x 29 inches. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,304

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