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#14 Jesse Owens

  • Course: Sports and Ethnic America, 1900 - Present
  • School: University of Arizona, AZ
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#14
United States of America land of the free and home of the brave. A place where in the 20th century life was suppose to be the best of the best. Yet African americans were well known to get the bad end of the stick when it came to being successful in this country. Even though some were the symbol of success when a ‘colored’ broke the barrier in a white sport. It was the Jewish Americans who did a lot and yet were not allowed to participate in certain sports and considered unathletic and worthless. On the other end of the spectrum Latino Americans were consider illegal immigrants who just came over for lower waged jobs that Americans didn’t want. These three groups fought hard to prove their own and yet they still were never consider equal among white Americans. I’m arguing that during the 20th century in the United States, Jewish Americans, African Americans, and Latinos/Mexican Americans used professional and club sports to lift aspirations of their people and inspire the masses to overcome social discrimination. African Americans faced a brutal hardship of not being able to prove themselves during the 1930-70s. Once described as being only good for picking cotton and being slaves. Blacks had come a long way through times. The Negro League which produced some of the greatest black baseball players ever. Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Cool Papa Bell, and finally Jackie Robinson. These black baseball players set the bar high for black athletes across the country and world. #42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers did more for the black community than he ever thought was possible. Jackie’s “grandfather was raised in slavery” and he understood that, thats not what he wanted to do for his entire life. During his lavish career, the fans fell in love with him because they kept winning, but couldn’t get a house to live in. “But when he(Jackie Robinson) was in California, whites refused to sell him a house in their community. They loved his talent, but they didn’t want him for a...
#14
United States of America land of the free and home of the brave. A place where in the 20th century
life was suppose to be the best of the best. Yet African americans were well known to get the bad
end of the stick when it came to being successful in this country. Even though some were the
symbol of success when a ‘colored’ broke the barrier in a white sport. It was the Jewish Americans
who did a lot and yet were not allowed to participate in certain sports and considered unathletic and
worthless. On the other end of the spectrum Latino Americans were consider illegal immigrants who
just came over for lower waged jobs that Americans didn’t want. These three groups fought hard to
prove their own and yet they still were never consider equal among white Americans. I’m arguing
that during the 20th century in the United States, Jewish Americans, African Americans, and
Latinos/Mexican Americans used professional and club sports to lift aspirations of their people and
inspire the masses to overcome social discrimination.
African Americans faced a brutal hardship of not being able to prove themselves during the
1930-70s. Once described as being only good for picking cotton and being slaves. Blacks had come
a long way through times. The Negro League which produced some of the greatest black baseball
players ever. Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Cool Papa Bell, and finally Jackie Robinson. These black
baseball players set the bar high for black athletes across the country and world. #42 for the
Brooklyn Dodgers did more for the black community than he ever thought was possible. Jackie’s
“grandfather was raised in slavery” and he understood that, thats not what he wanted to do for his
entire life. During his lavish career, the fans fell in love with him because they kept winning, but
couldn’t get a house to live in. “But when he(Jackie Robinson) was in California, whites refused to
sell him a house in their community. They loved his talent, but they didn’t want him for a neighbor” (
I never had it made) Baseball turned from an all white game, that businessmen went to during their
lunch, to blacks coming in to watch Jackie play. As white players treated Jackie horribly, he turned
his hatred into great baseball. “ He knew he had to do well. He knew the future of blacks in baseball
depended on it. The pressure was enormous, overwhelming, and unbearable at times. I don’t know
how he held up. I know i never could have.” Duke Snider
Jackie started something he couldn’t turn away from, he once said in his autobiography “As I write
these words now i cannot stand and sing the National Anthem. I have learned that i remain a black
in a white world.” In this quote Jackie is expressing his opinion about his country. He goes out and
performs to satisfy white audiences and yet at the end of the day he still black in the white world and
will never be consider equal or better than them. Quitting wasn’t in his blood, nor was letting his
fellow blacks down. For everything Jackie did, from being called racist degrading names to not being
able to stay in the same hotel as his white teammates, or the constant danger he put his family in,
Jackie did it for a greater cause. It was to prove to whites, to blacks in the negro league, to those
who said it would always be a white mans game, that a black man could make one of the greatest
barriers in history by playing the game of baseball.
The Pressure that Jackie faced over his career as a baseball players was far more horrific and
pressuring than that of one of the greatest black boxers of all time Joe Lewis. A young black man
from the red clay of Lafayette, Alabama. Joe didn’t see witness racism growing up. He didn’t
witness hearing the word “nigga” until he got to detroit in 1926. As Joe began to fight, his trainer
and close friend, Jack Blackburn told Joe “The heavyweight division for a negro is hardly likely the
white man ain’t too keen on it. You have to really be something to get somewhere, if you really ain’t
go be another Jack Johnson you got some hope”.
Joe Lewis was the first black boxer since Jack Johnson to make a statement in the sport of boxing.
Johnson who was the first black Heavyweight Champion of the world, lost all his fame because of
the fact he dated white women. Lewis who stuck by his black managers and one white trainer. He
took the world by storm. Lewis always found time to give money back to his mother and family back
in detroit. Lewis opened the door for young black boxers like Muhammad Ali, and Joe Frazier. Lewis
never really won the respect of the black community, a lot of people considered Joe as the “Uncle
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