Jack Roosevelt Robinson
Jack Roosevelt Robinson, baseball player and civil rights activist, was born in Cairo, Georgia, on January 31, 1919. He was a great husband of Rachel Isum, a nursing student he met at UCLA, in 1946, and father of three children, Jackie Jr., Sharon and David. He grew up in a large single-parent family. He was the youngest of five children, and he was raised in relative poverty by a single mother. Robinson was the first African- American who had the chance to join in the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His black family was the only one in the block where he lived in. No one thought that from this humble would grow the first baseball player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. He was different from his siblings. Sports were everything for him. At only age ten he said: “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” It is wonderful how Robinson related life with sports at that age. Robinson attended John Muir High School and Pasadena Junior College, where he was an excellent athlete. At that time, he played 4 sports: baseball, basketball, track, and football.
His brother, Matthew Robinson, was the one who inspired Jackie to follow his talent and love for sports. Jackie continued his education at the University of California, Los Angeles. In this period he became the best athlete in his school. Because of financial difficulties, he was forced to leave college, and he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears. This was for a short time because United States entered into World War II, and he decided to join in the U.S. Army. From 1942 to 1944, Robinson served to U.S Army, but after two years in there, Jackie’s army career was cut after he refused to move to the back of a bus during training. After that he was court-martialed in relation to his incidents and racial discrimination. In the end, Robinson left the Army with a worthy discharge. After this discharge, Robinson came back to sports, and he started to play baseball professionally. In 1944, African-Americans and whites played in separate leagues. Robinson began playing in the black leagues. In 1947, the president of Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey offered Jackie to join in Brooklyn Dodgers team. Brooklyn Dodgers hadn’t had a black player since 1889 when the baseball was segregated.
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In 1946, he moved to Florida to begin training with a team composed by all white players, and he played his first game on March 17 of that same year. Robinson was aware about difficulties ahead for a new athlete, but he never gave up. Rickey, the team president, made Robinson to promise that he would not fight back when he will be confronted with racism situations. After that Robinson understood that the hardest part of his life had just begun. Before he attended the team, he was hardly tested. Some of his teammates objected having a black American on their team. Many times spectators jeered at Robinson, and he and his family received threats. Beyond this despite racial abuse Robinson raised quickly his steps, becoming very famous. He led the International League with a .349 batting average and .985 fielding percentage. After a while Robinson was on everybody’s mouth as a special person and a great player. In 1949, he was selected as the best player of the Year wining the Most Valuable Player Award. Another award for him was his election to the Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1972, the Dodgers retired his uniform number of 42. After baseball, Robinson became active in business, and he continued his work as an activist for social change. In his later years, Robinson continued for greater integration in sports. He died from heart problems and diabetes complications on October 24, 1972, in Stamford, Connecticut. In 1997, United States Post Office honored Robinson by making him the subject of a commemorative postage stamp. The president of United States, Bill Clinton, paid a special celebration at Shea Stadium in New York, 1997, for 50th Anniversary of Jackie’s breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier.
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Jackie Robinson’s life will be remembered as one of the most important in American history, the man who stood against those who would work against racial equality and kept on his shoulder the profound influence of one man’s life on the American culture.