Jackie Robinson Breaks the Color Line (Cornerstones of Freedom)
What I Learned Section 1 -- Answer the
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
What I Learned Section 2 -- Define the
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
An important business person; a baseball executive (a team president
or general manager) is a non-player who helps make decisions for
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
Bonus Questions (Answer 1 of the
Following Questions for Your FREE
a. Name an African-American or Latino mentioned
in this book and describe one of his or her accomplishments.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
d. Describe any of the
events of the Civil Right Movement occurring in the 1950's and
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.
e. Use five of the words
in Section 2 in a sentence.
Answers will vary. Here are sample sentences from our young readers:
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
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.
f. Have a parent or friend give you
a spelling test with EACH of the words in Section 2.
More Valuable Information about Jackie
Jackie Robinson Foundation
the Color Line, & Jackie Robinson (Library of Congress)
Robinson & Other Baseball Highlights, 1860's-1960's (Library
Robinson: Civil Rights Advocate (National Archives)
Robinson: National Baseball Hall of Fame
Robinson: A Baseball Celebration (New York Times)
Robinson: Soul of the Game (Sporting News)
Robinson: TIME 100 Heroes & Icons
Robinson's Baseball Stats (CNN/SI)