Jackie Robinson Breaks Barriers for Black Athletes

Good Morning! Welcome to the Monday Morning Blog! This week we will talk about a man who battled the resistance put before Black Americans and succeeded to become the first Black player in the major leagues. He is Jackie Robinson.

Happy President’s Day! Wow, there have been many special days popping up for the Monday Morning Blog so far this year. And today is no exception. Did you know that many of the federal holidays were moved to Mondays on purpose? In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill so that workers would have three day weekends throughout the year.

During Black History Month, one way that we learn about the experiences that Black Americans faced is to read about their stories. With spring training getting started in the major leagues, I wanted to learn more about Jackie Robinson.

Photo of Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson

Who was Jackie Robinson?

John Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He was the youngest of five children being raised by a single mother, Mollie Robinson. With natural ability to play sports, Jackie followed in his brother Mack’s footsteps to play multiple sports in college.

Sports was one of the only areas Blacks could compete with non Blacks on a similar field. As Robinson competed in multiple sports in high school and college, he played on the same fields with whites and it was accepted. When he decided to pursue baseball, he was able to pursue it up through the negro leagues and played for the Kansas City Monarchs.

So, were the major leagues a possibility? There were no rules saying he couldn’t do it. It was more of an unwritten rule that it would never happen. Blacks didn’t get into the major leagues because they weren’t getting into the minor leagues, which was the way that most players made it there. It wasn’t based on his ability to play. It was based on the color of his skin.

What are Jim Crow rules?

According to Wikipedia, Jim Crow laws were state and local laws introduced in the Southern United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that enforced racial segregation. Formal and information segregation policies were present in other areas of the United States as well. Some of these laws remained in force until 1965. These also helped create The Green Book which we will talk about next week.

These rules were some of the justification for Black players to not be allowed into the minor leagues. And, there were negro leagues for them to play in, so why would they play in the major leagues? There were some owners and scouts out there who were looking at Black players as options to play on their teams. One of those owners was Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Photo by Mark Tegethoff via Unsplash

How did Jackie Robinson break into professional baseball?

When I read the book, Jackie Robinson: My Own Story, I learned a lot about how Jackie Robinson got into baseball and how broke into the major leagues. He told his story to Wendell Smith, a veteran sports writer, who wrote it down and published it.

Branch Rickey had never seen Robinson play, but his scouts had spoke very highly of him. And Rickey was also involved in the civil rights movement and believed in the integration of colored people into society. He wanted to give Robinson a chance to make it to the major leagues, the way that other players did it. He was also able to take advantage of the Fair Employment Practices Commission  in 1945 method to break the race barrier.

So he took the opportunity he was given and worked his way through the minor leagues and on April 15, 1947, he started his first game at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Not that it was easy. Robinson was taunted and treated differently because he was Black. But he was one who paved the way for others to follow.

What can we take away from Jackie Robinson’s experience?

Not everyone was against black athletes playing professional sports. Many people helped Jackie Robinson get in the majors. Not to say there weren’t a lot of people who were prohibiting them from doing it. One of the things that was interesting to me was how many people were rooting on black athletes. Many of the sports writers and even the coaches and scouts were cheering them on to break the barriers being put up. Robinson was one that persevered and broke through, but he had some help to do it. Not all people are holding colored people back.

As I read the book, Robinson is very humble and honest about his journey and the help he received. His perseverance led to many more colored athletes being able to play in the major leagues. If you are interested in getting a copy of it, here is a link to Bookshop.org, where you can get the book and support local bookstores Jackie Robinson: My Own Story.

Interested in learning more about Jackie Robinson? There are many books out there about him, but there is a great write up about him on the Baseball Hall of Fame website, Jackie Robinson.

Looking for other great books about teen challenges? Or information about teen challenges in general? Check subject tabs on my blog page. Mentoring A Dream – Blog.

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