Jackie Robinson has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal
Jackie Robinson (fourth from left) joins his teammates for introductions on Opening Day at Ebbets Field on April 18, 1952. The Dodgers defeated the New York Giants, 7-6, that day. Robinson played 10 seasons for the Dodgers (1947-56) and was named Rookie of the Year (1947) and National League MVP (1949).
March 2, 2005 - Jackie Robinson is awarded Congressional Gold Medal
Jackie Robinson is only the second baseball player to get the Congressional Gold Medal. The other was Roberto Clemente. In 1984, Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan.
Beneath a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the rotunda of the Capitol, President George W. Bush, left, bows his head in prayer during a tribute to the late baseball legend Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player to break major league baseball's racial barrier by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, in Washington, Wednesday, March 2, 2005. Robinson's widow, Rachel, center, accepted the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of Robinson's achievements on and off the baseball diamond. Speaker of the House Dennis Haster, R-Ill., joins at right. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Jackie Robinson being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York 1962.
The Jackie Robinson Story was made in 1950 and stars Jackie Robinson as himself. The story is an interesting commentary on race relations and the trials experienced by the Robinson family during this troubled period.
(Born January 31, 1919, Cairo, Ga.; Died October 24, 1972, Stamford, Conn.), American baseball player and civil rights activist, first African American to play major league baseball in modern times.
Born to sharecroppers Jerry and Mallie Robinson, Jackie Robinson was raised in Pasadena, California, primarily by his mother, who worked as a domestic after moving the family from Georgia. Taught by his mother to confront racism by showing his talent, Robinson turned to athletics as a way to compete with the white children who would shout racist epithets at him and his siblings.
At John Muir High School, Robinson starred on several of the school's athletic teams. In 1938, he began attending Pasadena Junior College, where he continued to excel in sports. In 1940, Robinson transferred to the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), where he became known as one of the best collegiate athletes in the United States. Robinson was the first man in the school's history to earn varsity letters in four sports. An All-America running back in football, he also competed in track and field - breaking his older brother's national record in the broad jump - and led the league in scoring while on the basketball team. Ironically, baseball was not Robinson's best sport, nor the one he most enjoyed.
Robinson left UCLA in 1941 before graduating, to become the assistant athletic director of the National Youth Administration Camp in Atascadero, California. During that year he also played semiprofessional football for the Honolulu Bears. With the onset of World War II, Robinson was drafted into the United States Army in 1942. His army experience sharpened his sense of racial injustice. Only after boxer Joe Louis intervened with officials in Washington on Robinson's behalf did Robinson become an officer at Fort Riley in Kansas. Transferred to Fort Hood in Texas after protesting the mistreatment of his fellow African American soldiers, Robinson was court-martialed for refusing to sit in the back of an army bus. He was soon reinstated, but was discharged from the army in 1944.
In 1945, Jackie Robinson began his professional baseball career by joining the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League with a salary of $400 per month. Robinson was not accustomed to the difficult schedule and travel of the Negro League, and he was disturbed by the oppressive treatment of black ballplayers throughout the country. He excelled, nonetheless, during the 1945 season, batting .345 and proving himself to be an all-around talent.
It was at this time that Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, quietly began to search for the best candidate to break the color barrier in major league baseball. The time was right for Rickey's project. In 1944, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had upheld the "gentlemen's agreement" to keep the major leagues white only, died. African American sacrifices during World War II engendered hope and support for their fuller participation in all facets of American society, thus leading to a burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. In a secret vote held by the new Commissioner Albert "Happy" Chandler's office, all of the Major League owners rejected the idea of integrating baseball, except for Branch Rickey. On October 23, 1945, he defied the owners' vote and signed the college-educated Army officer Robinson to a contract with the minor league Montreal Royals, the top team in the Dodgers' farm system.
After playing in Venezuela during the winter, Robinson joined the Royals in Florida for the 1946 spring training season. Robinson's venture into white organized baseball was opposed from the start by coaches, teammates, other teams, and many white fans. Facing racist taunts and segregated living conditions, Robinson managed to lead the Class AAA International League in batting (.349) and runs scored (113), and helped bring his team to the league championship.
In the spring of 1947, Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in Cuba for spring training. Several Dodgers circulated a petition to exclude Robinson. Dodger manager Leo Durocher told the protesters they could leave if they wanted. Nobody left and Robinson began "baseball's great experiment" in April 1947, becoming the first African American in the major leagues since Moses Fleetwood Walker had played in 1885. He set the league on fire, earning Rookie of the Year honors with a .297 batting average and a league-leading 29 stolen bases. During his ten seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson batted .311, led the team to six pennants and one World Series Championship, won the 1949 National League Most Valuable Player award, and paved the way for African American players in all professional team sports. Robinson proved himself on and off the field to be an exemplar of character and grace. With the help of his wife Rachel, Robinson heroically upheld his promise to Rickey not to retaliate against racist insults. In 1962, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After his baseball career Robinson was vocal in the struggle for integration and black self-improvement, supporting conservative means for improving the conditions of African Americans. He refused to attend games or play in "old-timers" games because of the dearth of blacks in nonplaying roles. By 1972, however, he celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut, throwing out the first pitch in the World Series. He died nine days later, having proved the equality of African Americans in one sphere that had profound effects on the rest of American society.
Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate
To the average man in the average American community, Jackie Robinson was just what the sports pages said he was, no more, no less. He was the first Negro to play baseball in the major leagues. Everybody knew that. . . . In remembering him, I tend to de-emphasize him as a ball player and emphasize him as an informal civil rights leader. That's the part that drops out, that people forget.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919-72), the first black man to "officially" play in the big leagues in the 20th century, possessed enormous physical talent and a fierce determination to succeed. In the course of a distinguished 10-year career beginning in 1947, Robinson led the Brooklyn Dodgers to six National League titles and one victorious World Series. Beyond his many and stellar baseball feats, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights when he retired from the game. -Rachel Robinson
Jackie Robinson Quotes:
Baseball was just a part of my life. Thank God that I didn't allow a sport or a business or any part of my life to dominate me completely. . . . I felt that I had my time in athletics and that was it.
The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.
I don't think that I or any other Negro, as an American citizen, should have to ask for anything that is rightfully his. We are demanding that we just be given the things that are rightfully ours and that we're not looking for anything else.
I guess you'd call me an independent, since I've never identified myself with one party or another in politics. . . . I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves, no matter what the party label.
Civil rights is not by any means the only issue that concerns me--nor, I think any other Negro. As Americans, we have as much at stake in this country as anyone else. But since effective participation in a democracy is based upon enjoyment of basic freedoms that everyone else takes for granted, we need make no apologies for being especially interested in catching up on civil rights.
I won't 'have it made' until the most underprivileged Negro in Mississippi can live in equal dignity with anyone else in America.
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 up to us in the north to provide aid and support to those who are actually bearing the brunt of the fight for equality down south. America has its iron curtain too.
Negroes aren't seeking anything which is not good for the nation as well as ourselves. In order for America to be 100 per cent strong--economically, defensively, and morally--we cannot afford the waste of having second-and-third class citizens.
I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it--and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.
With the 1947 Spring Training Dodger Roster book in hand, Robinson is preparing to make history, as the first African American to cross the color barrier and play in the major leagues since the nineteenth century. Robinson, who promised Dodger President Branch Rickey "not to fight back" when confronted with all manner of racial slurs and death threats, was uniquely qualified to make the opportunity a success. He spent the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers' top farm club, in the International League, where he hit .349 to win the batting crown. He began 1947 Spring Training with the Royals and has the "M" on his cap for Montreal. Robinson was named Rookie of the Year for the majors in 1947, an award which today bears his name in both the National and American Leagues.
In pregame ceremonies at Game Two of the 1972 World Series in Cincinnati on October 15, Jackie Robinson was saluted on the occasion of his 25th Anniversary of breaking baseball's color barrier. From left to right behind Jackie and wife Rachel are Joe Reichler of the Commissioner's Office, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, daughter Sharon, son David, National League President Charles S. Feeney, Dodger President Peter O'Malley, teammate Joe Black and Monte Irvin of the Commissioner's Office.
Jackie Robinson MVP Tribute
Great African American Baseball Players
By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s - 1960s
Jackie changed face of sports http://www.espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016431.html
Jackie Robinson National Baseball Hall of Fame
http://baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/robinson_jackie.htmThe Jackie Robinson Foundationhttp://www.jackierobinson.org/