March 17, 2012
Jackie Robinson - A National Treasurer
He was and is an undeniable "national treasure". Jack "Jackie" Roosevelt
Robinson was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919. Jackie learned the
meaning of prejudice early in life. It was perhaps this early childhood social education
that steered him on his way to becoming a great American hero.
As the youngest of five children, and from the "only black family on the block"
(Jackie Robinson Official Website,) Jackie had to face adversity daily. Segregation was
in full force. The ridicule and taunts the Robinson's had to endure only made the family
bond stronger. As a single working mother, Jackie's mom counted on the older children
to watch out for their younger siblings and provide guidance. It was Jackie's older
brother Matthew that inspired him to pursue his talent in sports.
Jackie had natural ability as an all-around athletic player. He proved this while
attending John Muir High School. He was "the first athlete to win varsity letters in
baseball, football, basketball, and track" (Jackie Robinson The Official Website). This
was a huge accomplishment. No other player, of any ethnic background had ever
achieved such an honor. The praise did not go to his head or make him feel he was 2
better than anyone else.
From high school he went to junior college in Pasadena, and continued his
college education at UCLA "At UCLA he gained all-American honorable mention as a
half-back" (Galegroup.com) playing football. His original college goal was more
academic than sports related. It was his plan to get his degree in sports medicine, but
because of money problems, Jackie left college his junior year to play professional
football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs.
After two (2) years in the US Army, Jackie felt he needed to make a name for
himself and joined the Negro Baseball League. His talent was noticed and he was picked
up by the Brooklyn Dodger's minor league team, the Montreal Royals - an all-white
team. "Some teammates objected to having an African-American on their
team”(Bio.com),as segregation was still in effect. Dodger's manager Branch Rickey
called Jackie to move up to the Major League team. In 1947Jackie Robinson "broke the
color barrier in 1947 being the first African American MLB baseball player since 1889,
when baseball had become segregated" (Jackie Robinson The Official Website).
However, during spring-training in Florida Jackie was forced to follow the segregation
laws, which dictated where blacks could eat and where they had to sit on a bus. There
was so much opposition to his presence, games were cancelled.
On April 15, 1947 Jackie played his MLB debut game" Jackie persevered through all the hateful comments and dehumanizing actions
put upon him from "spectators, managers, to stores, even players" (Whittingham p. 29). 3
"Silently accepted by some" (Whittingham p. 29), obviously hated by others.
Obscenities were directed towards him from people on the street and he was booed
from the stadium stands when he came to home plate. Throughout all the harassment
and abuse Jackie "showed class that put (his) detractors in the right, positive
perspective" (Whittingham, p. 28). He did this with dignity and class, which eventually
earned him the respect and acceptance of those that had recently denied him. And the
baseball community embraced him for the outstanding player he was.
In 1947, in his