Monthly Archives: April 2013

Jackie Robinson Testifies Before HUAC

(front cover of July 1951 comic book featuring Jackie Robinson. Source: Library of Congress American Memory Collections: Baseball and Jackie Robinson:

In 1947, Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson would make American history as the first African-American to officially play Major League Baseball in the 20th Century. On July 18 1949, his status as a hero would see Jackie Robinson summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

HUAC was holding hearings on the topic of “Communist infiltration of minority groups”. In April 1949, the radical African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson had allegedly stated that African-Americans would be reluctant to fight on behalf of the USA against the USSR. Robinson was invited by the committee as a “friendly” witness to rebut Robeson’s claims.

Robinson began his testimony by stating that “it isn’t exactly pleasant to get involved in a political dispute”, but that he decided ultimately to testify out of “a sense of responsibility.” While noting that “I don’t pretend to be any expert on communism or any other kind of a political ‘ism.'” Robinson pointed out that he was “an expert at being a colored American, with 30 years of experience at it.” After reminding the committee that he was still one of only seven African-Americans in Major League Baseball (out of 400 players), Robinson made a powerful statement about both African-Americans’ desire for civil rights and the tendency fostered by HUAC to see all social protest as a result of conspiratorial subversion:

“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.”

Source: Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of Minority Groups–Part 1, Hearings Before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty First Congress, First Session. 1949, p. 479-83  (Joyner Docs CWIS: Y 4: Un 1/2: C 73/11/pt.1)

Additional Federal Information Sources on Jackie Robinson:


Welcome to the Cold War and Internal Security Collection Blog

This blog is designed to promote J.Y. Joyner Library’s Cold War and Internal Security Collection by highlighting specific items from the collection and by discussing  the broader historical context behind the collection and its documents. Future posts will focus on topics such as the following:

  • Historically well known hearings and documents, such as Hiss v. Chambers, the Army-McCarthy hearings, the “Hollywood Ten”, etc.
  • Documents concerning specific individuals, such as Linus Pauling, Paul Robeson, etc.
  • Unique and interesting documents that provide insights into the nature of congressional countersubversion investigations.
  • Documents discussing specific organizations, such as the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Ku Klux Klan, Black Panthers, German-American Bund, etc.
  • Documents on a specific topic: investigations of the motion picture industry, the “Brown Scare”, labor unions, the internment of Japanese-Americans, etc.
  • North Carolina specific-topics: the “Silver Legion of America”, the CPUSA in North Carolina, the Klan in North Carolina, etc.

Each post will refer to relevant documents available in the CWIS Collection, as well as other topical materials available online or elsewhere in Joyner Library. For basic information about the CWIS Collection and how to use it, please see our CWIS LibGuide.

Please contact me with any questions or comments

David Durant
Federal Documents & Social Sciences Librarian
J.Y. Joyner Library

About the Cold War and Internal Security Collection

(Senator Joseph McCarthy during the famous Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954. Attorney Joseph Welch, who famously asked McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency, sir”, looks chagrined in the left foreground. Image via Senate historical website: )


Joyner Library’s Federal Documents Collection is pleased to announce the creation of the Cold War and Internal Security (CWIS) Collection. The CWIS Collection includes approximately 1,000 volumes of congressional hearings, committee prints and committee reports from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), its successor the House Committee on Internal Security (HCIS), the Senate Government Operations Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (SPSI), and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Internal Security (SISS), covering the years 1934-1977. The contents of the collection cover congressional investigations of organizations deemed “subversive” or “un-American”, primarily the Communist Party USA and its allies. Other subjects of investigation include the New Left, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers, 1930s and 40s pro-Nazi organizations and even the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans. These items serve as valuable primary sources on topics such as American political culture during the Depression, World War II and the Cold War, the history of American Communism and the other investigated movements, the fate of civil liberties during a period of perceived external threat, and the evolution of attitudes toward political movements deemed extreme or “un-American”.

The CWIS Collection is housed in the basement of Joyner Library and is intended as an archival resource. The collection, however, is open stack and can be used in the building by any interested patrons. Documents from the CWIS Collection cannot be checked out, but secondary copies of many of these volumes are available in the regular Documents Stacks and can be checked out. When complete, the CWIS Collection will contain at least one copy of every document published by each of the four committees within its scope, as well as select relevant documents from other congressional bodies.

Please contact David Durant, Federal Documents & Social Sciences Collection, for any questions about the CWIS Collection and how to use it:

The CWIS Collection is part of the Association of Southeast Regional Libraries’ Collaborative Federal Depository Program.