Jackie Robinson Research Project

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Jackie Robinson: Civil Rights and Baseball Icon
Dating back to Ancient Rome, segregation has remained a major part of society. Segregation can happen in many different ways such as racial or religious segregation. In the United States racial segregation was widely common after slavery due to Jim Crow Laws. One major event that helped to abolish segregation was baseball. Unsurpassed in popularity, baseball was a national craze during the 1860’s. It was commonly best referred to as America’s “National Past Time.” With its growing popularity, more and more professional teams were being established until in 1876 the first Major League was organized. As with most things during that time period, baseball was notably segregated. Although there were fully African American amateur and professional teams, there were no integrated teams until the 1940’s. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in the Major Leagues and officially break the “color line.” Jackie Robinson was a civil rights activist who not only broke the color barrier in sports but also questioned the deeply rooted custom of segregation and paved the way for future African Americans.

Early life experiences lead Jackie to make a difference in civil rights. During his college years Jackie took an interest in sports. “Robinson became an outstanding all-around athlete at Pasadena Junior College and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He excelled in football, basketball, and track as well as baseball” (“Jackie Robinson”). In college Jackie earned four varsity letters. By doing so he proved that African Americans could be successful and achieve great things. Also, this experience was the foundation of Jackie’s sports career. After dropping out of college Jackie decided to join the U.S. Army. “He knew Robinson and black boxer Joe Louis had challenged the military's rules against allowing black enlisted men to become officers, and Jackie had become a second lieutenant” (West). This is the first time Jackie took interest in civil rights. He stood up for what he believed in and in doing so gained the right to become an officer in the army. While still in the U.S. Army Jackie again stood up for what he believed in. “Robinson faced court-martial in 1944 for refusing to follow an order that he sit at the back of a military bus” (“Jackie Robinson”). This is another incident that indicated Jackie would actively take part in civil rights. Once again he stood up for himself and African Americans knowing what the consequences would be for disobeying an order. Jackie’s early life indicated he would make a difference in civil rights.

Jackie Robinson’s career in baseball hugely impacted racial segregation. Jackie was playing baseball for the Royals and his impressive season got him promoted to the Dodgers. “His debut game on April 15, 1947, marked the first time an African-American athlete played in the major leagues” (“About Jackie Robinson”). Jackie was taking a significant step in his life. By being on the team he had to withstand racial comments and not respond to them in a violent manner. Jackie proved to people that African Americans could be just as good at something as white people and that they are strong and will undergo anything to have civil rights. Jackie began playing for the Dodgers and showed he was more than the average player. “Leading the National League in stolen bases, he was chosen Rookie of the Year. In 1949 he won the batting championship with a .342 average and was voted the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP)” (“Jackie Robinson”). Jackie Robinson towered over other players. His talent was astounding and exceeded that of others. He didn’t just settle for being the first African American to play in the major leagues, but instead he became one of the best baseball players of the year. He affirmed that African Americans should not be denied rights and that they can associate and be a component of the white society. During his...
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