Black History Month: Jackie Robinson

Jack Roosevelt Robinson or Jackie Robinson was a professional baseball player who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was also the first African American to play in the modern-era Major Leagues. He was born in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, and was the youngest of five children. In 1920 after his father left the family he moved with his mom and siblings to Pasadena, California. He attended John Muir High School where his athletic talents were discovered. He excelled in football, basketball, track and field, and baseball. After graduating from Pasadena Community College in 1939 he went to UCLA where he was the first student at the university to ever receive varsity letters in four sports: basketball, football, baseball, and track and field. He eventually had to leave in 1941 due to financial problems and then moved to Hawaii where he played football for the semi-professional team Honolulu Bears’. Additionally, Robinson served in Fort Riley, Kansas as a second lieutenant. On November 4, 1944, he was honorably discharged from the army due to ankle problems that made him unfit to serve in the military. After the military Robinson went on to play for the Los Angeles Bulldogs in 1944. In early 1945 while athletes were directed at Sam Huston College, the Kansas City Monarchs offered Robinson a letter to play for them in the Negro Leagues. On April 16, 1945, the Boston Red Sox held tryouts for black baseball players. Robinson attended but left Fenway Park humiliated due to racial epithets. The Boston Red Sox, 14 years later became the last Major League team to integrate their team. However, the Brooklyn Dodgers club president Branch Rickey began to scout the negro leagues for potential players and Jackie was selected out of the players on his list. On August 28, 1945, Jackie and Branch Rickey made a deal. In the 1946 season in the International LeagueInternational,, League Robinson won Most Valuable Player honors. In 1947 Robinson was called up to the Major League team six days before the start of the season and on April 11, 1947, he made his debut in a preseason exhibition game against the New York Yankees. Robinson won Rookie of the Year and the 1949 Most Valuable Player. He won the 1955 World Series and retired from baseball in 1957 at the age of 37. He became the first African American to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. After his playing career, he became an executive at Chock Full O’Nuts Corporation. He also served as chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People freedom fund drive and later joined its Board of Directors. F He urthermorealso he served as an honorary chairman of the Youth March for Integrated Schools. He was often seen at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rallies, fundraising events, and demonstrations. Then in 1964, he co-founded the interracial Freedom National Bank in Harlem and served as chairman until his death in 1972. After that in 1964 New York governor Nelson Rockefeller hired him as a Special Assistant for Community Affairs. He eventually died in 1972. Jackie Robinson was one of the greatest Civil Rights activists of all time. His breaking of the baseball color barrier was one of the key parts of the civil rights movement after World War II.