Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”

Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.

After retiring from baseball, Robinson turned much of his attention to civil rights issues. He wrote to several Presidents about the cause, and even attended the March on Washington.

Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.

via The Rest of 42’s Story: Jackie Robinson as Civil Rights Activist

Frederick Douglass, February 1818 - February 20, 1895

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, Frederick Douglass went on to become a prominent abolitionist, author, orator and statesman.

Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879

From the Frank W. Legg Photographic Collection of Portraits of Nineteenth-Century Notables:

Proudly Mixed.Phylicia Rashad is african-american and cherokee indian

Why Lupita Nyong'o may have a tough time finding work again

Unfortunately – and through no fault of her own – Nyong'o’s Hollywood future may not be as bright as her current stardom suggests.

What the hell are you talking about? While countless media outlets have celebrated her beauty, intelligence, talent and significance for the future of black women in Hollywood, Nyong'o has yet to announce her follow-up project. Rumors and speculation abound, but her next move remains as unclear today as it was a month ago.

According to a recent Hollywood Reporter article, this is no accident. Writer Greg Tilday explains the “challenging lack of roles for darker-skinned actresses” in Hollywood, and how this might impact Nyong'o’s prospects:

“While the stage would appear to be set for her to ascend to the A-list – just as Jennifer Lawrence did after her best actress win for Silver Linings Playbook last year – it’s not that simple,” he writes. “[There’s] never been a black actress who has become the equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie.”

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“Marian Anderson, world’s greatest contralto, entertains a group of overseas veterans and WACs on [the] stage of the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium…”, 04/11/1945

From the series: Photographs of Notable Personalities, 1942 - 1945. Records of the Office of War Information

Earlier this week was the 75th Anniversary of Marian Anderson’s famous outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial, on April 9, 1939.  (Hear her renowned contralto voice in the audio post!)


R.I.P Whitney Houston and prayers for Bobbi Kristina


Images of the March on Washington

Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963, a high point in the long pursuit of African American civil rights took place when hundreds of thousands of civil rights supporters came to Washington, DC for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

The National Archives has extensive holdings from the March on Washington, including nearly 100 photos online from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Justice.  If you look closely, you can find images of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other prominent civil rights leaders, professional athletes and celebrities, marchers, and even a 12 year old girl celebrating her birthday.

But which is your favorite?  Suggest a photo from our holdings and we’ll share it here this week! 

(See more National Archives events marking the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom)

What’s your favorite image from the March on Washington?