By Sakura Watarai
Jackie Robinson played an active part in abolishing racism in the baseball field and in society in America
On April 15th every year, all the members of major league teams wear the uniform No. 42 which has been universally retired by Major League Baseball admiring as a way to honor one man. It is called “Jackie Robinson Day.” The man who wore the uniform No. 42 until 1957 is Jackie Robinson. He became the first African American who played baseball in MLB, and he broke the color barrier in baseball. He challenged in segregation in baseball with his calm attitude and remarkable records. He was also involved in improving the circumstance of black people, and his activities strongly affected American society. Jackie Robinson was not only a talented baseball player, but also a hero who fought against racial discrimination on and off the baseball field.
Jackie Robinson was an outstanding man from his youth until his death. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. His family moved to Pasadena, California after his father left for another women. They were poor though his mother worked several jobs to bring up her children. Manfred Weidhorn wrote in Jackie’s biography, “”Jackie was proud of his mother, who would not allow the white neighbors to drive her away or frighten her or mistreat her kids. From her he learned to stand up for his rights.””(The Life of Jackie Robinson) He was an excellent player of four sports: baseball, football, basketball and track in his high school. “He was named the region’s Most Valuable Player in baseball in 1938.”(Jackie Robinson Biography, 3) In 1939, he enrolled at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he became university’s first student to receive varsity letters in four sports. However, he quit UCLA because of financial difficulty in spite of his athletic success. He was conscripted into the United States Army. In 1944, Robinson was arrested because he did not give up his seat in the segregated bus. He was discharged honorably in 1944. In 1946, Robinson got married with Rachel Isum who he had met at university. Robinson is the first black baseball player in Major League in the 20th century. He was invited to join The Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Ricky, Dodger’s general manager, in 1947. He recorded a .311 career batting average throughout his long career. He made an effort as a civil right activist after his retirement. Robinson died on October 24, 1972, because of heart attack. He got Rookie of the year Award (BBWAA) in 1947, Most Valuable Player Award and Silver Bat Award (Bud Hillerich Award) in 1949, and he was named National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Jackie Robinson had remarkable talent in various sports, and he was an important contributor to civil rights.
At first, Robinson was rejected by Dodgers crowds and also his teammates, but his great achievements and attitude changed their minds.
Jackie Robinson achieved great success in baseball, despite experiencing death threats and racial taunts. After he was discharged from the United States Army, he played baseball for the Kansas City Monarchs which is part of the Negro Leagues. Then he was invited to join the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Ricky, Dodger’s general manager. First, he participated in the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers second team in 1946. However, he was promoted to the Dodgers soon, and he made his debut in the major leagues on April 15, 1947. It is the first time that an African American played baseball in MLB. However, he received anonymous letters which threatened his life. “In Arnold Rampersad’s biography of Robinson, it was revealed that those letters threatened violence against Robinson’s wife, Rachel, and the kidnapping of his son, Jack Jr.” (Andrew Harner, 4) He did not lose his cool in spite of the terrible threats. In addition, the Philadelphia Phillies manager and players jeered at him during a game. “”Hey, you black [expletive]” and “Why don’t you go back where you came from?” are two taunts Robinson recalled hearing players yell and during his first at-bat.” (Andrew Harner, 6) Nevertheless, he gritted his teeth and used insults as motivation. Racial insults to Jackie continued, but one of the his teammates, Ed Stanky resorted “”Listen, you yellow-bellied cowards, why don’t you yell at someone who can answer back?” toward the Phillies” (Andrew Harner, 6) At first, he was rejected by Dodgers crowds and also his teammates, but his great achievements and attitude changed their minds. The St. Louis Cardinals threatened to go own strike if an African American was allowed to play in the major leagues. His foot was stepped on by opponents. Despite all that, his first season was successful. “In 151 games, Robinson had 175 hits in 590 at-bats for a .297 average. He struck out just 36 times and led the league with 29 stolen bases.” (Andrew Harner, 9) “He was named the NL MVP just two years later in 1949, when he led the league in hitting with a .342 average and steals with 37, while also notching a career-high 124 RBI.” (Jackie Robinson) He retaliated against malice to him, and changed people’s minds without violence and through his solid performance.
Jackie Robinson achieved great success in baseball, despite experiencing death threats and racial taunts.
After Robinson’s retirement, he made impressive efforts to make the world better and gain freedom and civil rights for African American. He worked as a vice president of Chock full O’ Nuts, which is a coffee shop chain, from 1957 to 1964. It is the first time that black person became a vice president of major American corporation. In 1957, he became a chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1958 and 1963, he participated in the Youth March for Integrated Schools and March on Washington for jobs and freedom with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who is one of the leaders of these Marchs. He wrote letters to presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and vice president Nixon asking them to help abolish racism. In the letter to President Eisenhower, “he states that he once heard the President say that the blacks must wait. He respectfully tells the President that they cannot wait to gain the free rights of men that all men were granted 150 years ago.” In the letter to President Kennedy, “Robinson openly says that Kennedy will be a great President, but he will openly criticize him if Civil Rights are not on his agenda to come.” (Jackie Robinson: A Man Who Changed Sports Forever, 1) It is strong evidence that Robinson played an important role in the civil rights movement. Moreover, he helped fund the African American Students Foundation that is a scholarship program for talented students. One of the recipients was Barrack Obama who studied economics at the University of Honnolulu. In 1964, he established the Freedom National Bank to help black people who could not get loans from white run banks. In 1969, Robinson refused an invitation to show up at an Old-Timers game because there were still no black coaches or managers. In 1970, he founded the Jackie Robinson Construction Company to built houses for poor families.
In 1964, Robinson established the Freedom National Bank to help black people who could not get loans from white run banks.
In conclusion, Jackie Robinson played an active part in abolishing racism in the baseball field and in society in America. He had been a successful baseball player since his youth, and he became the first black player to join the major leagues. He thus “broke the color barrier.” He successfully finished his first season enduring many threats and racial taunts. In addition, he struggled as a civil rights activist. Thanks to his existence and actions, the MLB was integrated, which led other sports to follow. Robinson’s efforts contributed to increased opportunities for African American, including more job opportunities, access to education and voting rights.
Harner, Andrew. “Jackie Robinson’s Struggle as the First Black Player in MLB” HowTheyPlay.