Jackie Robinson is one of the most important figures of the Civil Rights movement, especially when it came to ending segregation. As the first black athlete to play Major League Baseball, he paved the way for other black athletes to participate in sports with other Americans.
Who Was Jackie Robinson?
Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He went to high school in Pasadena, California, where he became interested in sports. He played basketball, track, football, and baseball. He was named Most Valuable Player in baseball in 1938.
He later moved to Hawaii to play football for the Honolulu Bears, a semi-professional team. But his football career was cut short when the United States became involved in World War II.
Robinson served in the United States Army as a second lieutenant from 1942 to 1944. However, he was never sent to the front lines and did not participate in combat.
In 1944, Robinson started his professional baseball career. During this period, the sport was segregated. There were separate leagues for black Americans and white Americans.
Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, chose Robinson to join the Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Dodgers. A farm team is a minor league team from which a major league team will draft players.
Rickey understood that the situation would be tough for Robinson as many players, fans, and managers did not want to integrate baseball. Indeed, he knew that the player would face threats, name calling, and even violence, so he had Robinson promise not to retaliate violently.
Soon after, Robinson was drafted for the Dodgers. Just as Rickey predicted, Robinson had to deal with horrible treatment from his teammates and some fans. But Robinson continued to play, and he became one of the best players in the league.
Robinson played for the Dodgers for about ten years and even helped them win the ultimate victory: the World Series. His bravery led to the inclusion of more black athletes like Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, and Willie Mays.