Whatever their political differences, America's two most prominent civil rights figures, Robinson and King, held each other in mutual high esteem. In addition to his fundraising for the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, Robinson made it a point to stump for King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "I don't know what we would have done throughout these past years without your ardent support and interest," King wrote to Robinson after an SCLC dinner in October 1964. "[I]t pleases me to say that you have continued to give the kind of leadership throughout your career that we are proud to be identified with. This is certainly an important contribution to mankind as a whole and especially to Negro people, who too often must see their heroes of their youth tarnished by selfish compromises and mediocre judgment."
There were those who saw only compromise and poor judgment. During his ball-playing days, letters from white racists were frequent. Now, he was the target of black militants. In an open letter published in November 1963, Malcolm X wrote: "I sincerely fear, good Friend Jackie, that if the whites do murder you, you are still gullible enough to die thinking they are still your white friends, and that the dagger in your back is only an accident!" Robinson replied with characteristic dignity: "I reject your racist views. . . . I shall always be happy to associate myself with decent Americans of either race who believe in justice for all."