When you hear the name Jackie Robinson, what comes to mind? Probably baseball and the number 42. As a matter of fact, he was the very first African American who became a Major League Baseball player in the year 1947 – well ahead of the strides made by the civil rights movement. Yet all was not roses for Mr. Robinson, and as a matter of fact, being a pioneer of the civil rights movement held many moments that would make a lesser person want to act out in utter frustration.
Here are some tidbits that you may be aware of, but that nonetheless bear mentioning in conjunction with the accomplishments of Jackie Robinson:
- Jackie started out his young life as a member of a gang, quite possibly in response to growing up in a broken home where his father had up and left the family.
- He straightened out his life and eventually joined the army where he was promptly denied admission to the school that would permit him to become an officer. He fought for the privilege and it was finally given to him.
- Mr. Robinson endured the embarrassment of a court-martial for refusing to go to the back of a bus. Later on he was acquitted, but the pain and heartache remained. The year was 1944.
- In 1947 his superior baseball play was noted and he played for the Dodgers. To say that he had to endure harassment by both fans and players is to put it mildly. He stuck with it and the sport was better for it. With the support of the Dodgers and several players and officials who risked being ostracized for their support of Robinson, he was able to pull through and pave the way for others to follow.
- Later on he would work together with the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and also the Student Emergency Fund in an effort to advance the civil rights movement. It is noteworthy that Mr. Robinson was not one to play favorites and he called them like he saw them – whether he agreed or disagreed with the messages, the figures, or both.
- Even though many attempted to neatly fit him into a political pigeon hole, Mr. Robinson defied these attempts by supporting both a democrat (H. Humphrey) and a republican (R. Nixon) in their runs for office.
- He was not afraid to be associated with what many considered a white establishment at the time, namely the Republican Party.
- In 1966 he worked as an assistant for community affairs alongside N. Rockefeller, governor of New York.
This information barely scratches the surface of Jackie Robinson and his accomplishments, but it shows a man dedicated to a strict inner sense of right and wrong, who would not be deterred by labels, associations based on race, or things that should be left unsaid. Instead he would speak his mind and then accept the consequences of his words. All in all, he was a hero.
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