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Jackie Robinson

Profiles of Valor

Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson was born in rural Georgia in 1919, the youngest of five siblings raised by a singlemother. As a child, Robinson excelled in sports, garnering the attention of UCLA, where Robinson became the first athlete to letter in four sports, baseball, basketball, football and track. Despite his talent, Robinson was forced to leave UCLA, due to financial hardships.

 

In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, becoming a Second Lieutenant before receiving an honorable discharge in 1944 for objecting the racial discrimination within the ranks.

 

Robinson’s 1945 stint with the Kansas City Monarchs, (Negro Baseball League) caught the eye of the BrooklynDodgers, and in 1947 Robinson became the first African American player to play in the Major Leagues since its 1889 segregation. Both on and off the field, Robinson challenged the color barrier in baseball and the U.S.’s segregation practices and policies for the rest of his life.

 

Robinson was awarded Rookie of the Year in 1947, finishing the season with twelve home runs, twenty-nine steals, the league record, and .297 average. In 1949, the National League named Robinson it’s Most Valuable Player with a batting record of .342 average. Throughout his ten seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson accomplished several feats, including a World Series win in 1955 and the breaking of the color barrier in the America’s favorite pastime. In 1962, Robinson became the first African American to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. On April 15, 1997, the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first game, Robinson became the first professional athlete and only MLB player to have his number, 42, be retired league wide.

Dedicating his life to educating, Robinson used his status to advocate racial integration while raising awareness to thesocial injustices occurring in the nation. For his role in promoting and advocating nation-wide integration, Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2005.