July 21, 1962 - New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller last night lauded Jackie Robinson as “a hero of the struggle to make American democracy a genuine reality for every American.” He called the former Brooklyn Dodger star the “symbol, the inspiration, the personal leader” of his race. The Governor was among 900 persons who attended a testimonial dinner in Mr. Robinson’s honor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Mr. Rockefeller said it was fitting that the dinner’s proceeds should go to the Southern voter-registration drive headed by Dr. Martin Luther King. The latter was scheduled to speak, but flew instead to Albany, Ga., where he was to join in a demonstration protesting the city’s refusal to negotiate racial issues. Dr. King, in an address read for him, praised Mr. Robinson for going to Mississippi to champion Negro rights and for his “courage to speak out against forces in Harlem” who used anti-Semitism and religious and racial hatred as weapons. This was apparently a reference to the Black Muslims. Among messages read at the dinner were ones from President Kennedy, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Mayor Wagner, and former Vice President Richard M. Nixon. Mr. Robinson received a plaque from Floyd Patterson, the heavyweight boxing champion, on behalf of the Citizens Committee to Honor Jackie Robinson.
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