Jackie Robinson, and How He Advanced Opportunities for other African-Americans, in Baseball

 

Jackie Robinson, and How He Advanced Opportunities for other African-Americans, in Baseball

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Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on 31 January 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He was the youngest of the five children and raised in relative poverty by a single mother. He attended Muir High School and Pasadena Junior College, where he was a splendid athlete and played, baseball, football, basketball and track games. In 1938, he was the Regional most valuable player in baseball. Robinson older brother, Mathew, inspired Roosevelt, to advance his love and talent for the athletics.  He won a silver medal in the 200- meter just behind, Owens Jesse, at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin (Robinson, 2004).

Roosevelt carried on with his education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became the varsity’s first student to win University’s letters in four games.  In 1941, he left the University of California, Los Angeles just shy of graduation due to financial problems despite his success in athletics (Rampersad, 1997). He later moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he joined semi-professional Honolulu Bears to play football.  However, the outbreak of the World War II cut short his stay at the Bears.

According to Rampersad (1997), between 1942 and 1944, Jackie served as a second lieutenant in the US Army and never saw combat. Later, in 1944 Jackie fell into the wrong hands of the law and subsequently arrested for refusing to give up his seat and move to the back of a bus after an order from the driver.  Form his exemplary reputation and from the support of his friends, black newspapers, he was acquainted of the charges and subsequently received an honorable discharge from the military. His moral objection and courage from the segregation were the precursors to the consequence Jackie would have in major league baseball.

Following his discharge from the army, Jack began to play professional baseball. At the time, there was segregation that allowed African-American and the whites to play for separate baseball leagues. Jackie began to play for the Negro Leagues, but later chosen to ensure integration of the major baseball leagues by the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1947, Jackie became the first black player to compete in the major leagues after moving to Florida playing for the Royals (Rampersad, 1997).

Jackie faced racial prejudice and jeered by fans, especially the whites. Some of his team players, also objected his position as a player in the team.  Despite racial abuse, Robinson had an incredible start with Royals leading in the international baseball league. His successful time at the Royals led to his promotion and subsequently designated as the first African American to play in the Major League Baseball.

Subsequently, Jack managed to put the prejudice and racism aside and demonstrated what a talented player he was. Soon Jackie became a hero of baseball even amongst former critics and became a subject of a popular song. Jackie became an exceptional player in baseball stealing a record of nineteen times and became the highest-paid black in the history of the Dodgers (Robinson, 2004). His success in the major leagues became and enabled platform for other African-American baseball players such as Willie Mays, Reticule Paige, and Hank Aaron.

Through his success as a baseball player, Jackie became a vocal champion of the African-Americans, social and political causes and civil rights. He stressed the importance of the breaking of color barriers.  He testified against the discrimination of the black players and publicly called out Yankees as racist team for refusing to break the color barriers in baseball (Robinson, 2004).

After a successful career as a baseball player, Jackie continued to be an activist for social change, especially advocating for halting of the segregation of the African-Americans from baseball and instead allow for the inclusion of the talented blacks into the major leagues. Jackie helped to establish the African-American owned and controlled Freedom bank that helped young athletes in baseball to realize their dreams in baseball.

A breakthrough came when he inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, marking the turning point of the baseball league in the United States (Dunnahoo, 1994). The African-Americans could now play for teams dominated by the whites. The overhauling of the color barriers led to more blacks joining the baseball teams and have a chance to pursue their careers in baseball. Team managements no longer segregated the blacks, but allowed them to practice and improve their skills in baseball and other athletics.

In his last years alive he continued to be an advocate for the integration of sports especially baseball. His legacy continued after his death in 1972 through the establishment of a foundation, Jackie Foundation by his wife.  The foundation seeks to provide scholarships to the young African-Americans people who are talented in baseball and other sports. The foundation also offers mentorship programs to the young people to help them realize their potential and stand firm in the wake of prejudice and racism from the white people. Through the foundation many African –Americans can now compete effectively with the whites and have the chance to show case their talents in the major baseball leagues.

 

 

References

Dunnahoo, T., & Silverstein, H. (1994). Baseball Hall of Fame. New York: Crestwood House.

Rampersad, A. (1997). Jackie Robinson: A Biography. New York: Knopf.

Robinson, S. (2004). Obligations to keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America. New York: Scholastic Press.

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