Jackie Robinson

by admin - October 12th, 2017

By Meagan Perro

In the time after World World 2, racial equality was taking a huge turn for the better. There was a lot of political pressure towards treating blacks like equals and this correlated into the sports world. Integration in baseball, football, and basketball changed the views of many. “The professional leagues as well as the colleges and universities began to realize that they were experiencing a watershed in American history and efforts had to be made to achieve full integration in sports, if not everyday life” (Walter). Pre World War 2, blacks were restricted to much more than just ability to play sports. Before the integration of sports, blacks and whites played as opponents. The blacks started to dominate a great deal of the games being played, so whites stopped allowing them to even play each other at all. Rumors were started that blacks were of “low intelligence, criminal tendencies, and inferior physicality” (Walter). But, blacks were “performing at such a high level that by decade’s end there was no longer a question of turning back to the segregated major league sports” (242).

One of the many faces that aided in the change of our segregated world was Jackie Robinson. He was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He has four other siblings and he is the youngest. He went to John Muir High school and also attended Pasadena Junior College. At both schools, he played four sports, football, basketball, track, and baseball and succeeded greatly. He was named MVP in 1938. Jackie’s older brother, Matthew, won a silver medal in the 200 meter dash in the 1936 Olympics and he inspired Jackie to pursue his love for sports. Jackie went on to go to University of California, Los Angeles, and became the university’s first student to win four varsity letters. He did not graduate from college because he faced some financial hardships and was forced to leave UCLA. He then moved to Hawaii and played football for the Honolulu Bears, until his time there was also cut short due to World War 2. Jackie served 2 years in the army, although he never saw combat. While at training camp, there was an incident in which Jackie refused to give up a bus seat to a white man. This played a major role on the impact Jackie made on the world.

Photo of Jackie Robinson swinging a bat and wearing the number 42 in a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform taken by a staff member of the LOOK magazine in 1954

After Jackie’s discharge from the army, he played in a segregated professional baseball league. Due to his great success, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, asked Jackie to help integrate the teams. He first joined the Montreal Royals, a farm team for the royals, and later moved up to the Dodgers. His first game was April 15, 1947, marking the first time an African American played in the major leagues. Rickey made sure Jackie was aware of the possibility of extreme racism he could have to face, and did have to face. Jackie is well known for being so calm and holding back his reactions. Even some of his own teammates did not approve of him being on the team. Despite the hardships of the racial slurs and threats imposed on Jackie, he won many awards, including rookie of the year in his first season.

Jackie is memorable for being such a “talented and versatile player” (Goldstein), but he also impacted the Civil Rights movement immensely. After retirement, Jackie served on the board of NAACP and testified against discrimination in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. All African Americans admired Jackie Robinson for what he was doing and he helped to gain hope in many of their eyes on the future of equality. His career served as a very pivotal turning point for African Americans.

Work Cited

“Jackie Robinson.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 14 Aug. 2017, www.biography.com/people/jackie-robinson-9460813.

History.com Staff. “Jackie Robinson.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/black-history/jackie-robinson.

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