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A bond between icons: Martin Luther King Junior and Jackie Robinson

Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Jackie Robinson
Posted at 11:25 PM, Jan 12, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It's a link between legends.

"These two men cared about each other," explained Derrick Jones.

More than two decades ago, Jones - a local Negro Leagues baseball historian - began researching the relationship between Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. His specific focus is letters written between the two.

Jones' deep dive began after discovering a photo taken at Howard University in 1957. It shows Dr. King, the civil rights icon, and Robinson - who integrated Major League Baseball, receiving honorary degrees from the Washington DC institution.

"The Lord took care of them crossing paths, it was in their spirit to help," Jones pointed out.

Jones, who shares his study with area children - like the presentation we joined at D-Bat in Virginia Beach, says even though King and Robinson were affiliated with different civil rights organizations, their mission was the same: a non-violent pursuit of peace and racial equality. Through those causes, a relationship was forged - and it was a bond that lasted until Dr. King's assassination in 1968.

"We'll never know the brevity of the efforts those men would've contributed to this country," Jones revealed. "They set the template for us to say: this is the direction to work hard and be caring individuals."

We asked Jones how Robinson and Dr. King feel would feel upon seeing sports today, as athletes and coaches refuse to keep social justice issues on the bench.

"They worked for the good of the cause," Jones noted. "We have a lot of work to be done, and you have to work for it. No one is going to give you anything - you have to go work for it. "Until we have a better understanding of each other, we'll never understand each other."

And an understanding of the connection between Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Jackie Robinson provides additional perspective on two men already viewed as titans in American history.