The Biography of Jackie Robinson Essay
The Biography of Jackie Robinson
Some people are made to be great people, while others are born for it. Jackie Robinson is no exception. Even from the earlier years of his life, people have seen that he was destined for greatness. This short biography of Jackie Robinson would attest to the fact that he was, indeed, born to achieve great things that would forever change America. Jackie Roosevelt Robinson is famously known for breaking the color barrier in baseball when he joined baseball to become the first African-American player (“About Jackie”). He is also known for being a civil rights activist.
Born on January 31, 1919 in Georgia, Jackie was the youngest among five children raised by a single mother (“Jackie Robinson Biography”). Even at a young age, Jackie has experienced being discriminated against just because he was black. In 1927, the family was living in Pasadena, California Street, where they were the only black family. Jackie experienced being called names, picked on, and thrown rocks at. He also knew that the other families living in Pepper Street did not want them around the neighborhood (Walker 5). Even before Jackie played professionally, he’d been paid for his athletic abilities.
When he was young, his playmates gave him sandwiches and dimes for movies to let them play on his team. As Jackie’s family was only barely able to provide food for the whole family, the food that was given to Jackie helped a lot. He knew that his mother has to work and provide for them alone. Every single member of the family knew this. Jackie helped by telling his mother not to prepare lunch for him. Jackie got by with the meals that he could collect from his classmates (Linge 1). Jackie’s mother came from a prosperous family while his father descended from families which have been slaves.
When his parents were a young couple, they worked at a portion of land as sharecroppers. However, Jackie’s mother, Mallie, urged her husband to talk to the landowner about having a better deal. Jackie’s father, Jerry, followed his wife’s suggestion, and the landowner agreed to a half-cropping arrangement wherein half of the crops of raise would be Jerry’s. The couple worked hard enough until their income doubled. However, Jackie’s father was overwhelmed with the money in his pocket. He started going to a neighboring city of Cairo and spent his money.
At times, Jerry would be gone and Mallie would accept him when he came back (Linge 2). A few months after Jackie was born, his father was gone again. Many rumors surfaced about where he has gone to. Some said that Jerry headed north with a married woman with whom he had an affair. He never came back again. As Jackie grew up, he became bitter with his father’s abandoning them. Additionally, Jerry’s leaving had some unpleasant results to his family. The landowner was furious at what happened. He blamed Mallie for it, and evicted the whole family but still expected them to give their share of the crops (Linge 3).
The family soon came face to face with the harsh realities of the world when the white soldiers returned from Europe after World War 1. Employment was so scarce that riots sparked as a result of competition for the scarce jobs. Many blacks were killed during the riots. Jackie’s family was in a compromising situation because assassinations were more common in Georgia. Fortunately for the family, Mallie’s half-brother came for a visit and told them about his relatively easy life in California where he was a gardener for rich families.
Mallie pooled enough money to purchase 13 train tickets for her, her children, and the family of her siblings (Linge 3). The family came to live at Pepper Street in Pasadena, a block where the families were white. They met opposition and were harassed. However, Jackie’s mother did not allow her children to do something that would provoke their neighbors while at the same time did not allow others to mistreat them. Mallie went out of her way to treat her neighbors nicely, having her son work for a widow neighbor who had been opposed to a black family living next door.
By doing good deeds, Mrs. Coppersmith, the widow, became the family’s friend. Additionally, certain people got used to the black family. The local baker would allow Jackie and his siblings to collect the baker’s unsold bread and cookies. Mallie would share these with her neighbors. Although the family lived in relative poverty, Jackie was taught to be proud of his race. Even when their neighbors did not like them, the Robinsons were a good example. Mallie taught her children to share their blessing with their neighbors. She also taught them to help their neighbors with chores for free.
Although it took time before their neighbors became friendlier, Jackie learned that one’s race or color of the skin becomes unimportant once people get to know each other (Walker 9). Jackie and his siblings became known at the neighborhood for their “habit of hurtling along the sidewalks…at terrifying velocities. ” This was because the children loved speed and movement. Jackie was no exception to this. His brother, Mack, later testified that when Jackie was three years old, he would hop into his tricycle and would speed around chairs inside the house. Jackie had good balance.
In addition, he became known at the kindergarten class, where his older sister attended, for being good in his athletic skills. He was paid snacks and dimes just so he could play on others’ teams, as was mentioned above. Not only that but Jackie also made lifelong friendships with Ray Bartlett and Sid Heard who also loved sports (Linge 6). Jackie attended the Washington Elementary School where he played on the soccer team with his classmates. Jackie’s group proved to be so good at the sport that they challenged the team consisting of older boys and beat them. From then on Jackie’s team represented the school during matches.
Jackie said that the sports provided him an equal ground with other white boys in primary and high school. He further improved himself by playing better each time in whatever sports he participated in. However, being a young man that he was, Jackie was also involved in some juvenile pranks with the boys in his neighborhood. They formed a group they called “Pepper Street Gang” which got involved in mischief ranging from stealing to throwing mud at cars. His siblings also testified that Jackie was not too crazy about his studies. He would ignore his homework and instead played sports (Linge 7).
Sports have played a major role in Jackie’s life. Biographies of him would say that sports was what kept him from being a juvenile delinquent as his gang’s run-ins with the police became more frequent. A young mechanic by the name of Carl Anderson was caring enough to found a black Boy Scout troop and organized sports leagues to prevent kids and young men from going into trouble. Anderson was able to convince Jackie to stay away from the gang as it could lead him to serious trouble that might hurt his mother. That message got into Jackie because he did not want to disappoint his mother (Linge 10).
Jackie attended the John Muir High School after graduating from Washington Junior High School. John Muir High School’s Terriers were known in Southern California for its sports program. Jackie involved himself in the school’s baseball team and track team. Jackie’s involvement proved to be an advantage for the school because Terriers reached the finals in the regional baseball championships. However, Terriers were defeated by the Long Beach team (Linge 10). However, Jackie further involved himself in football, soccer, baseball, dodgeball, and handball.
Not only he liked sports, but he excelled in them because he loved to win (Walker 6). During his last years in John Muir High School, Jackie was an invaluable player to the football team as he led it from victory to victory. He was an excellent player with his versatile speed and agility. He also excelled wherever he was assigned to. His speed was what made him “the team’s best punt returner. On his personal life, Jackie did not date because he was shy about being poor. He did odd jobs such as delivering newspapers, selling hot dogs, shining shoes and other errands to help his family.
As a result, he did not have much mony to spend on girls (Linge 15). On the other hand, he became even better with sports when he grew up. In fact, when he was at Pasadena Junior College, Jackie was the best scorer in basketball. He also played other sports at Pasadena, such as baseball, football, and track. He defeated his brother’s record in the broad jump in track (Walker 10). In 1938, he received the distinction as the Most Valuable Player in baseball. His older brother, Matthew, became his inspiration in further pursuing his talent and love for sports (“Jackie Robinson Biography”).
Jackie attended the University of California, Los Angeles. There he became the “first student to win varsity letters in four sports” (“Jackie Robinson Biography”). However, he was forced to stop studying before his graduation due to lack of finances (“About Jackie”). He went to Hawaii and played football for the Honolulu Bears. Around this time, the United States entered into the World War II (“Jackie Robinson Biography”). Jackie enlisted for the U. S. Army where he spent two years before becoming a second lieutenant. His army career also came to a stop because he was court-martialed (“About Jackie”).
This was because he refused to sit at the back of the segregated bus when he was on training. He was finally acquitted of the charges and left the Army with an honorable discharge. This was to be the sign of what Jackie was about to embark in the field of major league baseball (“Jackie Robinson Biography”). After being discharged, Jackie went back to his original love: sports. He started playing baseball professionally. Around the 1940s, baseball was segregated. This means that whites and African-Americans played separately.
At first, Jackie played for the Negro Leagues until Branch Rickey, the vice president of Brooklyn Dodgers, chose Jackie “to integrate major league baseball” (“Jackie Robinson Biography”). Rickey believed that it was not fair to keep African-Americans from playing major league baseball. Thus, he signed a contract with Jackie which would bring Jackie to the major leagues. Rickey considered this as baseball’s great experiment. He chose Jackie to be the player because the latter embodied someone who is strong, can avoid confrontations even in the face of hostility, and can deal with intense public observation (America’s Library 2).
Jackie became a member of the all-white team Montreal Royals, which was a team for the Brooklyn Dodgers. On March 17, Jackie played his first game with the Royals. This proved to be very challenging for Jackie because the idea of racism was still a major issue. First, his teammates objected to his being a part of the team. Even the audience during games was jeering at Jackie. In addition, his family was also threatened (“Jackie Robinson Biography”). The year 1947 was a memorable time for Jackie. On April 15 of the same year, Jackie “changed America forever.
” Although all he did was step into the field and play, the courage he showed was what changed America. This courage was also a precedent of what was about to come. The following year, the armed forces became integrated. Then the public schools were desegregated. Many people were inspired by the courage that Jackie showed, especially during the time when racism divided people and the country was not truly united (Dorinson, Warmund, and Schumer ix). Jackie’s contribution to the breaking of the color barrier in the country’s preeminent sport was something that everyone remembered of him.
Despite the challenges that come with being a member of an All-American team, Jackie showed courage in challenging the “deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South” (“About Jackie”). Works Cited “About Jackie. ” N. d. Estate of Jackie Robinson. 3 April 2009 <http://www. jackierobinson. com/about/achieve. html>. This website is the official site of Jackie Robinson which provides a brief overview of his life since he was young until he grew up. It also includes links that connect to web pages about Jackie Robinson’s achievements, awards, and photos, among others.
The website is a useful source although it does not have a comprehensive information on the life of Jackie Robinson compared to what is included in books. The goal of this website is to provide an overview of Jackie Robinson’s biography. America’s Library. N. d. Jackie Robinson Breaks the Color Barrier. 3 April 2009 <http://www. americaslibrary. gov/cgi-bin/page. cgi/jp/bball/jackie_2>. This website also contains information on Jackie Robinson’s life. However, if compared with the preceding source, America’s Library is more credible because the Library of Congress created the website.
On the other hand, the preceding source has more information than the America’s Library. America’s Library only included a sort of a peak review into Jackie Robinson’s contribution as an athlete and activist. Dorinson, Joseph, Warmund, Joram, and Schumer, Charles E. Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports, and the American Dream. United States: M. E. Sharpe, 1999. This book concentrates on Jackie Robinson’s life when he was older. It mainly focuses on the achievements and accomplishments of Jackie in terms of sports and breaking the color barrier in baseball.
The book is reliable, because one or more among the authors had a first-hand experience during Jackie’s years. However, the book did not go into detail about Jackie’s younger years, which are important in judging why Jackie became the person that he was. “Jackie Robinson Biography. ” N. d. Biography. com. 3 April 2009 <http://www. biography. com/search/article. do? id=9460813>. Biography. com contains biographies about notable personalities. Unlike America’s Library, it contains a summary of Jackie’s life from his younger years until his death.
It also includes information not found from the preceding sources, adding to its credibility as a source. Furthermore, the websites incorporated videos about Jackie Robinson, including an interview with his daughter, Sharon Robinson, and Michael Long, an author who wrote about Jackie’s correspondence with other famous personalities such as Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Thus, the website is a very reliable source. Linge, Mary Kay. Jackie Robinson. United States: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007. This book is a much more comprehensive biography of Jackie Robinson.
It contains information that is not included in several web sites. The author has also delved deeper into Jackie’s roots and childhood experiences and influences. The author has also provided thoughtful recollection of Jackie’s experiences that further solidified his love for sports. This book is a reliable source as it agrees with the information found in web sites and other books. Furthermore, the author is an editor specializing in biographies. The author has also written about the biography of another baseball legend. Walker, Sally, M. Jackie Robinson. United States: Millbrook Press, 2002.
This book retells the story of Jackie Robinson in a story format meant for kids and young children, complete with illustrations. The story is also presented in a chronological order, although not in-depth so the readers can easily digest the information. The story also focuses on Jackie Robinson’s characteristics as a person who faced adversary from being the first black baseball player. Although the story is based on Jackie’s real life, it is not a very reliable source because it was not comprehensive. However, it would be a good source for papers summarizing the important events in Jackie Robinson’s life.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 September 2016
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