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Civil War was one of the biggest wars and it marked a new page on American and African American history. Even though the Civil War abolished slavery and drafted many plans, articles in order to give justice back to African Americans, they still faced violent resistance mounted by majority South officials, institutions, and whites who support white supremacy and the slave system. Over centuries after the Civil War, racism in the United States targeted African Americans with mass lynching and violence in order to maintain segregation in many fields. Even though some state governments tried to pass more laws on restricting segregation on African America, the actions were widespread by white supporters and public officials. To end this injustice and mass threats, instead of waiting for the state and national governments to take action, African American activists stand out and lead the anti-segregation revolution. Jackie Robinson was one of the most important figures since he was the most historically significant black baseball player. From the moment he started his career in Brooklyn Dodger, he completely broke the unwritten racial color line that existed in the sports field for over century.
Born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, his full name is Jackie Roosevelt Robinson and he was growing up in California since his mother thought that her children would have a better life in the North than having to experienced through segregation in the South. However, he still faced discrimination from white neighborhoods. His family was not wealthy so they were facing more brutal segregation actions than usual rich black families. Growing up in a racially mixed environment, he soon felt the injustice on African Americans, started on finding ways to break the barrier, and proving himself constantly. After high school, he attended UCLA in 1941. Then he entered the still segregation army for World War II. Since the strong anti- African American in the South, his career was nearly ruined because he was told to get off his bus seat for a white which resulted in a call in the military police. So after all, he decided to play baseball professionally. Jackie Robinson battled discrimination throughout his life.
There were very few African Americans play in baseball games since they have a lot of pressure. Jackie played for Nergo Leagues in Kansas City in 1945 owing to unwritten rule in baseball “No black player could play in the major leagues”. During his career in Nergo Leagues, he impressed the scout of Brooklyn Dodgers with “10 doubles, 4 triples, and five home runs”. Branch Rickley was the Dodger’s manager, he realized that he could not waste talent by a rule not allowing black to play in the field. “When Dodgers decided to break the color barrier in the major leagues, they sent out scouts looking for a player who could do it…. They found the right person in Jackie Robinson”. Even though the Dodger’s fans, other teams, and players were frustrated on Rickley’s decision; he still believes that Jackie was the right person who can break the color barrier. The history was changed on that day. “I don’t care if the guy (Jackie Robinson) is yellow or black, or he has stripes like a god damn zebra. I’m the manager of the team and I say he plays”.
In 1946, Jackie was accepted by Dodgers and played with the team in Montreal, Canada. The team and the fans in Montreal immediately accepted him, and his skill led the team to the first play. With his success in Montreal, Dodgers wanted to sign him up for the major league season in 1947. That is where the trouble began. Newspaper, media, television were in the argument battleground whether should Jackie Robinson is suitable to play in the majors. “Some his Southern teammates circulate a petition against Robinson playing”. With the public opinion shifting, fans, and baseball players became more aggressive on Jackie Robinson’s role. Through the film “42”, directed by Brian Helgeland, has some scenes about people supported the South send him letters threatening his family as well as his life; moreover, the fans screamed insult during games. In some cities, they did not allow Robinson and his team to stay overnight at their hotels and have meals in restaurants. Jackie Robinson remained silent and did not give any response to any insult or threatening letters. Plus, he proved all the color racism is all wrong by his achievements in baseball. Beside all these combative actions, he did receive supports. Dodger’s fans cheered him up; black players were still with him; over his skilled play and good personality, over months, he got full support from most baseball players. In the last scene of the film “Jackie Robinson”, Pee Wee Reese, a white baseball player also Jackie’s teammate, puts his arm over Robinson’s shoulder to show the team’s fellowship. After the majors, Jackie impresses baseball fans with achievements “scored 125 runs, battled 297”. Jackie led the Brooklyn Dodgers won the championship of the National League and he was the Rockie of the year.
Jackie continues to speak out against racism throughout his life. After years remained silent, he gave out the speech to express his own thought on segregation on African Americans in 1949. Jackie, who was not known for self-deprecation, made the greatest speech of his life saying “Maybe I’m doing something for my race”. When he did, his speech angers most baseball players, fans and whites. However, that did not discourage him from fighting against discrimination. He continued proved himself “…the second in double plays in 1949,1950,1951, and 1952”; “had a career batting average of .311 with Dodgers, .333 with All-Star games..”; “led the Dodgers to six World Series and One World Series in the championship in ten years span…”. Beyond achievements in baseball, he played “Jackie Robinson” in the movie “The Jackie Robinson’s Story”, which is a documentary film on how Jackie Robinson is the first black baseball player. He also served in numerous anti-segregation campaign, and published his own work “I Never Had it Made”. He once said, “I’m grateful for all the breaks and honors and opportunities I’ve had, but I always believe I won’t have it made until the humblest black kid in the most remote backwoods of America has it made”. Alongside his desegregation in sports, he sent a letter to President Eisenhower’s civil rights commend presents his actions in school segregation.
Getting encouraged by Jackie, major events of desegregation were following the public shift. In 1945, Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools is unconstitutional. Civil Rights Movement, from 1950 to 1906s, succeed in gain back the social justice and equal rights for blacks under laws of the United States of America – The Civil Rights Act.
The anti-segregation activists, supporters and whole US nation truly acknowledged that Jackie was a brave, fearless, courageous, dynamic person who was able to turn the new page of history. Robinson’s impact on baseball and American’s thought on racial color is never could be determined. “It’s the word that defines his public life as a tireless campaigner against discrimination as well as his history-making athletic career”. He changed the nation’s thinking and opened a door for thousands of black athletes.
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