Jackie Robinson – An American Trailblazer and Sports Icon

Joshua Engman, Staff Writer

Jackie Robinson is responsible for breaking the color barrier in professional baseball in 1947 and progressing the American civil rights movement. He is widely renowned and regarded as one of the most influential athletes of all time. To this day, Major League Baseball (MLB) celebrates and honors his legacy every year on April 15th, the anniversary of modern baseball’s first racially integrated game. Part of the celebration is that every player on the field wears Robinson’s legendary number 42 (mlb.com).

His story begins on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. Born to a sharecropper son of a slave, he would later move to Pasadena, California to be raised by his single working mother. Robinson excelled at football, basketball, track and field, and baseball during his time at Pasadena Junior College and later at the University of California at Los Angeles (jackie robinson.org).

Before he was able to graduate, he withdrew from college to help care for his mother. He then enlisted in the US Army and was “commissioned [as] a second lieutenant in 1943” (britannica.com).

He was eventually honorably discharged from the Army when he refused to move to the back of a segregated military bus (brittanica.com). This moment would spark his life-long dedication to fight for racial equality.

Following his discharge from the Army, Robinson committed himself to the game of baseball, beginning his career by playing in the segregated Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs (biography.com). It wasn’t long however, until Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, scouted Robinson’s talent to help him achieve his goal to integrate the MLB. He was sent to join the “all-white Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers,” before he would play in the MLB (biography.com).


Once Robinson proved that he could handle the physical part of the game, he had to prove that he could handle the mental part. Rickey would test him and force him to keep his composure when subjected to racist verbal assaults (brittanica.com). Many fans and even some teammates would issue him and his family death threats. Despite all opposition, he was moved up to the Dodgers to play in the MLB (biography.com).

On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first black person to play in the MLB. His life didn’t get any easier though; in fact, it got even harder due to the increased attention and notoriety that comes with the MLB. Players around the league, and even some of his own teammates, threatened to sit out and refused to play with Robinson. Despite the blatant bigotry found in the league, Robinson went on to win rookie of the year in 1947. He would later also become a “National League MVP in 1949 and a World Series champ in 1955” (biography.com).

After Robinson’s successful baseball career, he became very active in the American civil rights movement. In 1967, he was elected to the board of the NAACP and also served as a political advisor, lobbying for racial integration in sports (biography.com).

Jackie Robinson’s legacy is one of triumph. His story teaches us the importance of treating everybody with respect and dignity. Robinson said it best when he said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”



Citation Information

Article Title: About Jackie Robinson

Website Name: jackierobinson.org

URL: https://jackierobinson.org/jackie-robinson/

Access Date: 2/14/2023

Publisher: The Jackie Robinson Foundation

Last Updated : 

Original Publish Date: 

Article Title: Jackie Robinson

Author: The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica

Website Name: britannica.com

URL: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jackie-Robinson

Access Date: 2/14/2023

Publisher: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Last Updated : Jan 27, 2023

Original Publish Date: May 4, 1999


Article Title: Jackie Robinson

Author: Biography.com Editors

Website Name: biography.com

URL: https://www.biography.com/athletes/jackie-robinson

Access Date: 2/14/2023

Publisher: A&E Television Networks

Last Updated : Oct 15, 2021

Original Publish Date: April 3, 2014


Article Title: About Jackie Robinson Day

Website Name: mlb.com

URL: https://www.mlb.com/mlb-community/jackie-robinson-day

Access Date: 2/14/2023

Publisher: MLB Advanced Media, LP. All rights reserved.



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