Jackie Robinson Breaks the Color Line (Cornerstones of Freedom)

What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the Following Questions:
1. When was Jackie Robinson born?

January 31, 1919. He was born Jack Roosevelt Robinson in Cairo, Georgia. He was the youngest of five children. Jackie's mother was named Mallie Robinson. After her husband left her, Mallie moved her family to Pasadena, California.

Jackie and his brothers were very talented athletes. Jackie played every sport in high school, and he played many sports at Pasadena Junior College. One time Jackie competed in the broad jump in the middle of a baseball game.

Jackie's brother, Mack, was a sprinter in the 1936 Olympic Summer Games in Berlin, and he won the silver medal in the 200-meter dash. Did you know Mack came in second to Jesse Owens?

Top of Page

2. True or False: Jackie Robinson was the first person to letter in four sports at UCLA.
True. Jackie Robinson received an athletic scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He played basketball, track and field, football, and baseball. He was UCLA's leading scorer in basketball. He was UCLA's best broad jumper. He was the national leader in rushing yards and punt returns yards in football.

Because Jackie wanted to earn money to support his family, he left UCLA in 1941, without graduating. He worked at a youth camp, and he was a professional football player for the minor league Honolulu Bears.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the United States entered World War II. In 1942, Jackie was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Hood, Texas.

While serving in the army, Jackie was exposed to racial prejudice and injustice. Qualified African-Americans were not admitted to the Officer's Candidate School at Fort Riley. One time, Jackie was arrested for not moving to the back of the bus. Although state and local laws could constitutionally require African-Americans to sit in the back of the bus, the army was not allowed to have separate seating on buses. Jackie was court martialed for disobedience and found not guilty. In 1944, Jackie was honorably discharged from the army.

Top of Page

3. What year did the Negro National League begin playing baseball?
1920. The Negro National League was established as the first professional baseball league for African-Americans. Other leagues for African-Americans and Latino players were also created. By the 1930's, these leagues were called the Negro Leagues.

Jackie Robinson joined the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945. The Monarchs were one of the best teams in the Negro Leagues. Robinson was voted to the Negro National League All-Star team.

Top of Page

4. What did Jackie Robinson do on April 10, 1947?
He became the first African-American baseball player in Major League Baseball and changed the history of baseball.

In August, 1945, Jackie Robinson met with Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey had believed Major League Baseball should be an integrated sport and wanted to sign Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

On October 23, 1945, Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was the first African-American to be signed to a Major League Baseball team. Rickey knew Jackie had the talent, courage, and intelligence to break the color line in baseball.

In the 1946 season, Jackie Robinson played for the Dodgers' minor-league team, the Montreal Royals. In his first game, he hit three singles and a home run, and he stole two bases. Jackie led his team to the International League Pennant, and he won the league batting title.

On opening day, April 10, 1947, Jackie Robinson stepped onto the baseball diamond wearing the Brooklyn Dodgers uniform, and he became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. He helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series. He ended his first season with a .297 batting average, led the Dodgers with 12 home runs, and led the league with twenty-nine stolen bases. He was also the National League Rookie of the Year.

In 1949, Jackie Robinson won the National League batting title and the National League's Most Valuable Player Award. In 1950, Robinson earned $35,000 and was the highest paid Brooklyn Dodger at the time.

In the 1955 World Series, Jackie Robinson stole home in the first game. Although the Dodgers lost the game, they won the World Series. It was the Dodgers' first World Series Championship, and they beat the New York Yankees.

In 1957, the Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, and Robinson was traded to the Giants. Robinson decided to retire from baseball.

Did you know Jackie Robinson played with the Dodgers for ten years and helped the team win six National League pennants?

In 1962, Jackie Robinson entered the Hall of Fame. This is the greatest honor in baseball. He was the first African-American to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 1972, Jackie threw out the first pitch at the World Series. This was his last public appearance. In 1972, Jackie Robinson died at the age of fifty-three.

Top of Page

5. What was Jackie Robinson's connection with Chock Full o' Nuts, the NAACP, and New York's Freedom National Bank?
Jackie Robinson was the Vice President of Community Relations for Chock Full o' Nuts, he raised funds for the NAACP, and he helped launch New York's Freedom National Bank.

As Vice President of Community Relations for Chock Full o' Nuts, a coffee company, Robinson was involved in the company's operations. He was not just a figurehead.

The Civil Rights Marches occurred during the 1950's and 1960's. Robinson spoke out for Civil Rights and helped raise funds for the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). He participated in protests and spoke to young people.

New York's Freedom National Bank was an African-American owned bank. Robinson helped create its reputation as treating minorities equally and fairly. It became one of the largest African-American owned banks in the United States.

Top of Page

What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the following words:
Color Line: Policy forbidding African-Americans from playing professional baseball with white players

Commissioner: Head of an organization; the commissioner of baseball oversees all baseball players and team owners

Executive: An important business person; a baseball executive (a team president or general manager) is a non-player who helps make decisions for a team

Kansas City Monarchs: Legendary team for the Negro National League

NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; organization working to secure and protect the rights of African-Americans

Negro Leagues: Baseball leagues operating from the 1920's to the 1950's in which African-Americans and Latinos played professional baseball

Varsity Letter: Honor given to athletes who compete in sports in high school and college

Top of Page

Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the Following Questions for Your FREE Bookmark):
a. Name an African-American or Latino mentioned in this book and describe one of his or her accomplishments.
Jackie Robinson was the first African-American Major League Baseball player in 1947.

Josh Gibson was a great baseball player for the Negro Leagues.

Larry Doby played baseball for the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He was the first African-American player in the American League.

Roy Campanella played baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. He is one of the best catchers in baseball.

Minnie Minoso played baseball for the Cleveland Indians in 1949. He was one of the first Latino players in Major League Baseball.

Willie Mays played baseball for the New York Giants in 1951. He played for twenty-two years and hit 660 career home runs. Mays is one of the best all-around baseball players.

Ernie Banks played baseball for the Chicago Cubs in 1953. He played for nineteen years and hit 512 career home runs.

Henry Aaron played baseball for the Milwaukee Braves in 1954. On April 8, 1974, he hit his 715th home run which broke Babe Ruth's all-time home-run record. Today, Aaron holds the all-time home run record with 755.

Frank Robinson was the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball in 1973, when he was named player-manager.

Chuck Cooper played for the Boston Celtics in 1951. He was the first African-American player in the National Basketball Association.

Althea Gibson was the first United States top-ranked African-American tennis player in 1958.

Arthur Ashe was the first African-American tennis player to represent the United States at the Davis Cup in 1963. Ashe was one of the best tennis players.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. This sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Civil Rights leader who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott from 1955 to 1956.

Top of Page

b. Describe how African-Americans were treated in baseball in the United States.
Since the 1880's, only white men were allowed to play Major League Baseball. Non-white men, including African-American and Latino men, were not allowed to play.

By the 1930's, many talented baseball players played for the Negro Leagues. Although they were as skilled as the players in Major League Baseball, they were not treated equally. The Negro League players were paid less and had to play two or three games a day to earn more money.

The Negro League players also traveled and played under worse conditions then Major League players. Their buses were small and hot. They were banned from certain restaurants and hotels. They ate leftovers and scraps. They slept in homes of African-Americans or slept on the bus.

In 1946, in Jackie Robinson's first year with the Montreal Royals, the fans yelled racial slurs at him on and off the field. Pitchers intentionally threw at him while he was at bat. In Indianapolis, Jackie was not allowed to play because a local law prohibited interracial competition.

Although Jackie Robinson had been successful in the minor leagues, there were still many obstacles for him to face on his way to the major leagues.

Between the 1946 and 1947 season, the Major League Baseball team owners voted 15-1 against allowing Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers (only Branch Rickey voted yes.) However, Baseball Commissioner A.B. (Happy) Chandler overruled the vote, and Robinson was called up to the majors.

At spring training in 1947, Jackie Robinson's own teammates circulated a petition against Robinson. However, Branch Rickey told the Dodger players that Robinson was staying. If they did not like it, Rickey would get rid of them.

St. Louis Cardinal players attempted to organize a league-wide strike against the integration of baseball. However, National League President Ford Frick threatened to ban for life any player participating in the strike. Frick stated, "This is the United States, and one citizen has a much right to play an another."

In the major leagues, spectators yelled racial slurs at Jackie, pitchers threw at him, and he received death threats.

Following Jackie Robinson's first season in Major League Baseball, the door was open for others African-Americans and Latino baseball players. In 1948, Larry Doby was signed by the Cleveland Indians, and he became the first African-American player in the American League. Also in 1948, Roy Campanella was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1949, Minnie Minoso signed with the Cleveland Indians, becoming one of the first Latino players in the major leagues.

In the early 1950's, great players like Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, and Hank Aaron all wore Major League Baseball uniforms.

By the 1970's, African-American and Latino players made up over half of the rosters. However, few minorities held positions of manager, coach, and executives. In 1973, Frank Robinson became the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball.

Top of Page

c. How were other sports affected by Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color line in baseball?
Jackie Robinson's presence on the baseball diamond helped break down the barriers in other sports.

In 1951, Chuck Cooper played for the Boston Celtics and was the first African-American player in the National Basketball Association.

In 1958, Althea Gibson was the first United States top-ranked African-American tennis player.

In 1963, Arthur Ashe was the first African-American tennis player to represent the United States at the Davis Cup. Ashe was one of the best tennis players.

Top of Page

d. Describe any of the events of the Civil Right Movement occurring in the 1950's and 1960's.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954): This United States Supreme Court case held segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956): After Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1, 1955, for sitting in a "White Only" section of a public bus, Martin Luther King, Jr. organized a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. This boycott lasted more than a year.

Civil Rights Act of 1964: This law states segregation in public places is illegal.

Top of Page

e. Use five of the words in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball which allowed African-Americans and Latinos to play in the major leagues.

I want to be the baseball commissioner when I grow up because I could get in free to any baseball game.

My mom is an executive for an international company.

Jackie Robinson played with the the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945.

NAACP represents the rights of African-Americans.

Jackie Robinson played in the Negro Leagues before he was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

My dad has a varsity letter for football on his old high school jacket.

Top of Page

f. Have a parent or friend give you a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.

Top of Page

More Valuable Information about Jackie Robinson:
The Jackie Robinson Foundation
Baseball, the Color Line, & Jackie Robinson (Library of Congress)
Jackie Robinson & Other Baseball Highlights, 1860's-1960's (Library of Congress)
Jackie Robinson: Civil Rights Advocate (National Archives)
Jackie Robinson: National Baseball Hall of Fame
Jackie Robinson: A Baseball Celebration (New York Times)
Jackie Robinson: Soul of the Game (Sporting News)
Jackie Robinson: TIME 100 Heroes & Icons
Jackie Robinson's Baseball Stats (CNN/SI)

Top of Page





Happy Learning!

Send Your Questions or Comments to info@imahero.com




Home | Collection | Who's Your Hero? | About Us | Privacy | Site Map | Online Store

©1999-2003 StarRise Creations. All rights reserved. The IMA Hero logo
and the IMA Hero bears are trademarks of StarRise Creations.