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Jackie Robinson: From Cairo to the Big Leagues

Early Life

Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia. He was the fifth of Jerry and Mallie’s five children, who earned their living as sharecroppers on the fields of Georgia. “While Jackie was still an infant, his father, Jerry Robinson, abandoned the family,” which caused his mother to reevaluate their situation in Georgia. She thus, “seeking a better life for Jackie and his four older siblings, joined the post World War ‘great migration’ of African Americans out of the South” (Tygiel, Reader 1). The family ended up in Pasadena, California, just outside of Los Angeles, where Jackie spent the rest of his childhood.

While blacks made up only one percent of California’s population in the 1920’s and discrimination was rancid, it did provide a unique opportunity to play sports that many places around the country did not. Because of the “lack of restrictions on black athletic participation,” an “avenue of success” was afforded to the Robinson siblings to excel using their athletic prowess (Tygiel, Reader 2). Yet racial tensions were still extremely high and “what my mother didn’t know was that Pasadena was as prejudiced as any town in the South. They let us in all right, but they wouldn’t let us live” (Mack Robinson, Tygiel, Reader 17). The racism the Robinson children grew up facing shaped much of Jackie’s later famous personality and short temper.

Another aspect that shaped Jackie’s thinking was his mother’s deep religious faith. “Family was vital to Mallie, but God was supreme,” and she would routinely urge her children to “carry out the divine will as set out in the Bible” (Rampersad 25). Growing up in such a religious household, Jackie certainly had a deeper sense of purpose in everything he did. He was “witness to his mother’s unshakable attachment to religion, the entirely willful way she delivered herself and her fortunes to God without becoming fatalistic or withdrawing from the world” (Rampersad 25). The Robinsons were regular church goers at Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena, and their upbringing was surrounded by the moral lessons taught in the Bible.

The Robinson family settled on Pepper Street in 1922 in a large five-bed room house that they shared with another family. Pasadena was home to one of the wealthiest communities in the nation yet was divided along racial lines. This division caused Jackie to attend two different elementary schools, because town officials were nervous that whites would become minorities and because of an increase in Black and Hispanic residents. He attended the Cleveland School for two years, before transferring to Washington Elementary in 1926. The constant athlete, Jackie never took school very seriously. His “official transcript at Washington Elementary shows grades of B and C over the years, but with a decline in quality between the fourth grade and the sixth grade, his last year there.” The transcript continues with a “simple note made by a school official about his likely future occupation: ‘Gardener’” (Rampersad 26). Nevertheless Jackie enrolled in Washington Junior High School in 1931 at the age of 12.

The saving grace for Jackie was always sports, and he was not the only gifted athlete in the Robinson family. His brother Mack was an Olympic silver medalist in the 200 meter dash at the 1936 Olympics, finishing behind only Jesse Owens. Even his sister Willa Mae “used to pitch in the baseball games and played soccer and field hockey and ran track” (Willa Mae, Tygiel, Reader 17). The family was never necessarily in financially stable territory as they continued to be “on and off food stamps,” and “the children worked after school,” also relying on the donations of local merchants (Tygiel, Reader 18). Before Jackie was old enough to work a job, at age seven or eight he began accepting bribes from the local kids who would “offer him part of their lunches or even a dollar” to play sports with them (Tygiel, Reader 19). Jackie saw this as a way to help his family earn money, and “he would rush home from school with that dollar and quickly offer it to Mallie for the family funding” (Tygiel, Reader 19).

Jackie began attending John Muir High School in 1935, where he continued to excel in athletics. School continued to be second behind sports on his priority list, yet he did well enough to stay eligible. He would become well known throughout Pasadena as a quarterback on the football team, guard on the basketball team, long jumper on the track team, catcher and shortstop on the baseball team, even winning a singles Negro tennis tournament. He made an impact on all four teams virtually immediately. In baseball he “shone as a star at the annual regional baseball tournament in Pomona” and “earned honors that spring in both the broad jump and high jump” (Rampersad 36). Still a little small for football, he did not start his first year but was “an outstanding guard and a mainstay” on the basketball team that contended for the league championship that season (Rampersad 37).

The 1936 baseball and football season established Jackie as a superior athlete compared to his peers, and that is when he began to receive more regional attention. Starring as a catcher, he “earned a place on the annual Pomona tournament all-star team, which included two other future Hall of Fame players: Ted Williams of Hoover High in San Diego and Bob Lemon of Long Beach’s Wilson High” (Rampersad 37). During that spring he also won the Southland Class A title with a long jump of 23 feet 1 inch. Jackie became the starting quarterback of the football team in the fall of 1936. Excelling at the position, he gave opponents fits with his ability to both run and pass, leading Muir Tech to a one loss league record, even with the loss of a majority of their starting lineup from the year before. After a football rib injury healed, he stepped back into a starting role for the basketball team, which was picked “to finish fourth or fifth in the league” that season (Rampersad 38). He played forward and was a team captain and not only was he “Muir’s most reliable and prolific scorer, but his precocious sense of the importance of team play and his fearless desire to win also made everyone around him a better player” (Rampersad 38). The team ended that season in first place, and “the powerful Pasadena Star-News, usually frigid to blacks and begrudging in its praise of his exploits, conceded finally that Jack Robinson ‘for two years has been the outstanding athlete at Muir, starring in football, basketball, track, baseball, and tennis’” (Rampersad 39).

Junior College

Jackie continued his athletic endeavors at Pasadena Junior College after graduating high school. At this point he was most well known as a football player. He was MVP of the team, which went 11-0 and won the Junior College Championship in 1938, scoring 131 points and gaining over 1,000 yards. He and another black teammate were named to the “All-Southern California Eleven” that year as well, which “was pretty unusual: the two guys who got all the honors were black” (Tygiel, Reader 28).

Track and Field was another sport Jackie became well known for in Junior College. “Growing up, Jackie idolized Mack [his brother]” and one of his “goals was to break Mack’s long-jump record” at Pasadena Junior College (Tygiel, Reader 28). That day came in 1938 at the National Junior College Track Championships, which happened to be on the same day as the Southern California Junior College Baseball Championships. He was allowed to jump an hour early, broke Mack’s record, then got a ride to Glendale in time to lead his team to victory in baseball: “He got there in the middle of the third inning, and his team was down by a few runs. Well, he got a couple of key hits, stole a couple of bases, and basically won the game by himself” (Tygiel, Reader 29). This performance, coupled with batting .417 with 25 stolen bases on the year, made Jackie MVP of Southern California junior college baseball. He also happened to be a member of the basketball team and led the Western Division in scoring. These performances in the 1938-39 school year allowed Jackie to win four varsity letters.

A number of division one schools offered Jackie scholarships following his Junior College performance. An alumni from Stanford even “offered to pay Jackie’s way to any school back East just so he wouldn’t stay on the West Coast and possibly beat Stanford playing for another school” (Tygiel, Reader 29). Jackie decided to stay close to his roots and attend UCLA for the 1939 football season.


Jackie’s time at UCLA was a combination of incredible athletic feats and turbulence between himself and his teammates. While he “became the only man in UCLA history to letter in four varsity sports,” he was also “not well-liked” by his peers and “was not friendly” in general (Tygiel, Reader 31). There are a number of possible reasons for his withdrawn attitude even to the other black players on the team. First and most prominent was the death of his brother Frank in 1938. Jackie was extremely close to Frank, and his death had a huge negative emotional impact on Jackie. Secondly was the consistent racial tension he had to deal with, and, because of his standoffish personality, he did not necessarily react passively to these tensions. He found himself in trouble with the law a number of times for standing up to the racial precedents of the time period, which caused a large amount of stress for the young Robinson.

Despite his attitude, Jackie’s athleticism shined through while at UCLA: “He was the national long-jump champion in 1940, and he was the basketball team’s highest scorer the two years he played. Baseball was his weakest game, but in football he excelled. In 1939 he led the nation in average yards per carry, a little over 12 yards per run from the line of scrimmage” (Tygiel, Reader 32). To say baseball was Robinson’s worst sport at UCLA may be an understatement, as he played only one season and hit just .097. Because of the impact Jackie had in his time at UCLA, he “was among the 25 charter members to UCLA’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984” (Greenwald). Yet Jackie did not graduate from UCLA, leaving just a semester short of graduation in 1941 to take on a position with the National Youth Administration. His family and girlfriend Rachel Ismus questioned this peculiar move, yet Jackie did it anyway. Having never really taken his academics seriously, even in college, it became apparent to Jackie that it would take a lot more work than he was willing to do in order to graduate.

The Military

Jackie was drafted into the army in April 1942. After a drawn-out protest by Jackie, Joe Louis, and other black soldiers who were denied enrollment into Officer Candidate School, Jackie was accepted: “In January 1943 Robinson was commissioned a second lieutenant and appointed acting morale officer for a black company at Fort Riley” (Tygiel, Reader 41). He was transferred to the 761st Tank Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, soon after his commission and stood out as an officer. So much so that the commanding officer put in papers for Jackie to be sent overseas.

Before being sent to the war, Jackie had to have an old ankle injury examined by a doctor. His ride to the office was more eventful than expected. When told to move to the back of the bus by the driver, Jackie refused, citing a recent order by the military to desegregate all army bases. He was subsequently court martialed, which led to a month-long battle to avoid a dishonorable discharge. Upon his acquittal, Jackie, who “a month earlier had been willing to waive his rights to compensation for injury and go overseas” now wanted to leave the service (Tygeil, Reader 50). He was transferred to Camp Breckenridge after requesting to be released where he coached military sports teams. On November 1944 he was honorably discharged and began a new chapter in his life. Unfortunately his time in the military was just another reason to be angry at the social tides of the United States during the time period.

Professional Football

Jackie played football semi-professionally in 1941 for the Honolulu Bears and then professionally for the Los Angeles Bulldogs, making his debut in December in the Pacific Coast Pro Football League. He was a dual threat quarterback who gave opposing teams fits because of his ability to both run and pass. The Bulldogs biggest rival was the Hollywood Bears quarterbacked by Jackie’s UCLA teammate Kenny Washington. The unique aspect of the PCPFL was the fact that black players were common, and the West Coast crowds were generally much larger when they had the opportunity to watch such impressive athletes as Robinson and Washington duel. Because of Jackie’s military service, he was stationed in Hawaii until 1944. Upon his return to California, he rejoined the Bulldogs. Yet in his time away, the newly formed AFL had supplanted the PCPFL as the premier professional football league on the West Coast. Jackie would only play a few games in the ’44 season before an ankle injury sidelined him, and he began searching for a position on a Negro League baseball team.

The 1945 Season with the Kansas City Monarchs and meeting Branch Rickey

The fall of 1945 found Jackie Robinson fresh out of the Army and coaching athletics at “Samuel Huston College, a black United Methodist Church school” in Texas (Rampersad 114). The War had left the Negro Leagues seriously hurting for talented players, so on the advice of a close friend, Jackie signed a contract with the Kansas City Monarchs for $400 a month and agreed to join the team for spring training the following April. That spring marked Jackie’s return to baseball “five years since his last competitive season at UCLA” (Rampersad 117). At first some of his teammates questioned his skill, saying that he “didn’t have a strong arm” (Rampersad 117). But he soon won the affection of his teammates with “daring base running and sensational fielding” and later that season going on to “[bat] a team high .345” (Rampersad 118). Early into the season with the Monarchs, white-baseball came calling. At the encouragement of a Boston city councilman Isadore H.Y. Muchnick and reporter Wendell Smith, Jackie was offered to come to “Fenway Park in Boston for a tryout before club officials” (Rampersad 119). Robinson impressed the Red Sox at his tryout, and one club official is quoted as saying, “If I had that guy on this team, we’d be a world beater” (Ramperstad 120). But Major League Baseball wasn’t quite ready for Jackie Robinson, because, after all, “he [was] the wrong color” (Rampersad 120).

That late summer, Jackie met Clyde Sukeforth, who explained that he wanted to bring him to Brooklyn to meet Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to talk about joining a new negro-league team, the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers. But when Robinson finally met Rickey late in August 1945, Rickey quickly dispelled any notions of Jackie playing on a colored team in Brooklyn, stating “you were brought here to play for the Brooklyn [Dodger] organization” (Rampersad 126). Rickey made it expressly clear that he knew Jackie had the baseball skill required to play in the big leagues. He also made it very apparent that whites would do anything they could to get Robinson to react and fight back. Rickey famously told Robinson, “I’m looking for a ball player with the guts enough not to fight back” (Rampersad 120). After thinking for several long minutes Robinson agreed to take the opportunity with the Dodgers, “for black youth, for [his] mother, for Rae, for [himself] and . . . for Branch Rickey” (Rampersad 127).

1946-1947: Breaking the Color Barrier

In February 1946, Jackie Robinson headed to Daytona Beach, Florida, for Brooklyn Dodgers’ training camp to play in white baseball, “eight years before the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decision . . . nineteen [years] before Congress would pass a comprehensive Civil Rights Act” (Tygiel, Experiment 99). Robinson was heading to the Deep South to break the color barrier where “thirty lynching attempts occurred in 1946” (Tygiel, Experiment 99). As expected, Jackie and the Brooklyn organization faced extreme discrimination during that spring. Games were canceled, and the team was frequently barred from stadiums. When exhibition games were played, Robinson was frequently thrown at by opposing pitchers, but “Jim Crow stands filled to overflowing for Jackie’s appearances” (Tygiel, Experiment 114). As expected, after training camp, Jackie had earned a spot on the Montreal Royals, Brooklyn’s farm team.

Nervous tension surrounded the Royals opening day on April 18th, 1946. The team traveled to Jersey City to play the Jersey City Giants. Jackie Robinson began his career in white baseball with “four hits, two stolen bases, [driving] in three runs, [bunting] safely and [scoring] twice on balks by pitchers that he had rattled” (Robinson 54). According to the Pittsburgh Courier, “Jackie stole the show” (Robinson 54). As they season progressed, pitchers continued to throw at Robinson’s head, but he quickly and easily won the respect of his teammates and the people of Montreal. They dubbed him “The Colored Comet” in reference to his fast and daring base running (Rampersad 152), all the while boasting a .356 batting average to lead the minor leagues. The Royals 1946 season came to a close in dramatic and exciting fashion for Robinson. Jackie won the league batting crown, set a new Royals single-season batting average batting .349 for the season, driving in 66 runs and stealing 40 bases (Rampersad 156). That October, the Royals defeated the Louisville Colonels to win the Little World Series, and Robinson “who finished the series batting .400 also scored the last run” (Rampersad 157).

Prior to the 1947 spring training camp, Branch Rickey, anticipating more racial problems and hurdles if the team trained in Florida, moved camp to Cuba. The team was also slated to play exhibition games in Panama against semi-pro teams. Rickey knew that the Caribbean nations would be far and away more accepting to a black man playing white baseball than Jim Crow South would be. Prior to the start of camp, several Dodgers players knowing that Robinson was likely to get called up to the major leagues, executed a half-hearted mutiny against Rickey and manager Leo Durocher. Rickey quickly had this revolt squashed and “[accommodated] those who had asked to be traded” (Tygiel, Experiment 172). Robinson had a strong showing in spring training and hit exceptionally well in Panama, “[batting] .519, easily the best figure of any Brooklyn or Montreal player” (Tygiel, Experiment 174). The Dodgers organization concluded spring camp in early April with several new additions to their roster, including a new, black, starting first baseman.

Opening day, April 15th, 1947 was seen by millions as the most important event in baseball, second only to the game’s very invention. The Boston Chronicle boasted that the “triumph of whole race was seen in Jackie’s debut in Major League Baseball” (Tygiel, Experiment 178). But for all the excitement surrounding the day, opening day for the Dodgers was relatively uneventful. Jackie’s first real test came a few days later against the Philadelphia Phillies and their fiery manager Ben Chapman. The series against the Phillies was characterized by a continuous “verbal assault on Robinson” by Chapman (Tygiel, Experiment 182). The stress that encounters like this took on Robinson was quite visible, and just one month into the season his batting average sank to a low .250 (Tygiel, Experiment 188). But as the 1947 season wore on, Robinson settled into his game, and “in city after city [he] showed skeptical sports writers and fans that the Dodgers had not erred” (Tygiel, Experiment 189). Starting in June, Jackie went on a tear, hitting in 21 straight games, batting .315, and leading the league in bases stolen (Tygiel, Experiment 190). As the summer turned into September, the Dodgers found themselves approaching the pennant a full seven games ahead, and Robinson’s exceptional play all summer was a key factor in putting the Dodgers in this position. Teammate Dixie Walker said, “No other ballplayer on this club . . . has done more to put the Dodgers in the race than Jackie Robinson” (Tygiel, Experiment 190). Later that month, Sporting News awarded Jackie the Rookie of the Year award. Robinson and the Dodgers ended the season in a thrilling but disappointing loss to Joe DiMaggio and the talented New York Yankees. But Robinson’s impact on the game of baseball had been felt throughout the league. He finished 1947 batting over .300, second in runs scored, first in stolen bases, and leading the Dodgers in home runs. (Tygiel, Experiment 205).

Print Resources

Anderson, Dave. "Jackie Robinson, First Black in Major Leagues, Dies." New York Times 25 October 1972.
Obituary: "For sociological impact, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was perhaps America's most significant athlete. As the first black player in major-league baseball, he was a pioneer. His skill and accomplishments resulted in the acceptance of blacks in other major sports, notably professional football and professional basketball. In later years, while a prosperous New York businessman, he emerged as an influential member of the Republican party. His dominant characteristic, as an athlete and as a black man, was a competitive flame. Outspoken, controversial, combative, he created critics as well as loyalists. But he never deviated from his opinions."
Bianchi, Mike. "Racists still taunting Jackie Robinson after all these years." Orlando Sentinel 8 August 2013.,0,4498832.column
Statue of Robinson and Pee Wee Reese commemorating Reese's gesture of solidarity recently defaced shows the racial divide still operative in America.
Coffey, Wayne. "Former Dodger Ralph Branca believes ‘42' hits home run on Jackie Robinson." New York Daily News 22 May 2013.
"Interviewed by noted baseball author Marty Appel, Branca [pitcher on the Brooklyn Dodgers team] praised the film's accuracy, and still shudders at what his friend endured that year, from headhunting and spiking on the field to the racist vitriol that spewed from the likes of Ben Chapman, manager of the Phillies."
Eig, Jonathan. Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.
"World War II had just ended. Democracy had triumphed. Now Americans were beginning to press for justice on the home front--and Jackie Robinson had a chance to lead the way. He was an unlikely hero. He had little experience in organized baseball, his swing was far from graceful, and he was assigned to play a position he had never tried before. But the biggest concern was his temper--Robinson was an angry man who played aggressively." Not seen: said to call into question the Robinson-Reese event.
Holway, John B. Black Diamonds -- Life in the Negro Leagues from the Men Who Lived It. Westport: Meckler, 1989.
Oral histories of a dozen members of the "other half, the hidden half, the black half" -- African American players in the Negro leagues before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
Ogden, David C. "When Baseball Isn't White, Straight and Male: The Media and Difference in the National Pastime." Theory in Action 6.2 (Apr 2013): 183-86.
Review of a book of this title by Lisa Alexander: "Despite the lingering racial problems in the major leagues, MLB, nonetheless, celebrates the growing diversity on its team rosters and in its front offices; but to Alexander, such hoopla, particularly that on Jackie Robinson Day, rings hollow. MLB encourages all major league players to wear Robinson's number, '42,' which some players, and Alexander, feel cheapen the tribute. However, 'having only one player per team wear 42 would be more historically accurate and it would shift the focus of the celebration from MLB as an organization to Robinson and [Larry] Doby as individuals.' Alexander also finds MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's comments disingenuous when he says how proud 'we [meaning MLB] are of what we've done' to re-integrate the major leagues. Alexander writes: 'I do not think the word 'we' means what he thinks it means. In reality, 'we' treated Robinson, Doby, and the first generations of black players as second-class citizens, while framing ourselves as a bastion of integration and equality."
Rampersad, Arnold. Jackie Robinson: A Biography. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.
Ramperstand's Robinson biography comes on the heels of "the announcement that his Brooklyn Dodgers number, 42 would be retired from major-league baseball for all time to come" and chronicles Robinson's life from his birth in Jim Crow Georgia, through his shattering of the color barrier in Major league baseball, to his untimely death in 1972. The book illustrates Robinson's life and achievements with quotes from Rachel Robinson, Branch Rickey, and Wendell Smith.
Robinson, Jackie; as told to Alfred Duckett. I Never Had It Made. 1972. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
"The most striking features of this marvelous book are its honesty, its courage, and its wisdom. Here is a great American hero who refuses to be a mythical hero. Instead, he tells the painful truth about himself as a human being -- someone who, like all of us, needs love, struggles with insecurity, makes mistakes, revels in achievements, and weeps in sorrow" (West in the preface). This book not only chronicles Robinson's life both pre- and post-baseball, but it also brings to light the inner struggle he faced on a daily basis. The human side to Robinson is displayed, with great insight into his thoughts and feelings that lead to the actions that have become famous.
Robinson, Rachel; with Daniels, Lee. Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.
A collection of Rachel Robinson's family pictures coupled with chronological biographical information about Jackie's life.
Rogosin, Donn. Invisible Men -- Life in Baseball's Negro Leagues. New York: Atheneum, 1983.
A history of the Negro leagues, where blacks played baseball before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball: "From 1920, when the first Negro National league was founded in Kansas City, until 1946, when Jackie Robinson formally stepped across the color line and into organized white baseball, the Negro leagues grew, matured, overcame hardship, and even flourished."
Tracy, Thomas, et al. "Jackie Robinson statue defaced with racist slurs, swastikas outside Cyclones park, News offers reward." Daily News (New York) 7 August 2013.
"A despicable act of vandalism sparked a chorus of outrage Wednesday after swastikas and racist slurs were found scrawled on the iconic Jackie Robinson statue outside the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium. A manager at MCU Park in Coney Island stumbled upon the defaced statue about 8:30 a.m., just hours before thousands of kids showed up at the ballpark for Camp Day. Among the hate-filled messages written in black marker on the monument of Robinson and his Brooklyn Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese were: 'Hile (sic) Hitler,' 'Die N----r' and 'F--k Jackie Robinson and all N------s.'
Tygiel, Jules, ed. The Jackie Robinson Reader: Perspectives on an American Hero. New York: Plume, 1998.
"I have attempted to craft an alternative biography of the Brooklyn Dodger star, exploring the outstanding events and issues of his life through a broad variety of writings about him." Tygiel is no stranger to the Robinson story, as he has written two other books on Jackie, yet this one is unique as it examines his life from the perspective of those who experienced it along side of him.
Tygiel, Jules. Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy. New York: Oxford UP, 1983.
This book aims to recount Jackie's life from a social angle. Tygiel "realized that the Robinson story, easily the most familiar chapter of American Sports history, had never really been told in its entirety. Most accounts, primarily biographies and autobiographies, had stressed events and personalities, but had failed to place them into a social or historical context." Tygiel examines everything from public attitudes to the civil rights movement, while framing Jackie's life from the general public's perspective.
Zeiler, Thomas W. Jackie Robinson and Race in America: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin's, 2014
"Jackie Robinson made history when he debuted in major league baseball in 1947. This volume recounts Robinson's story as a pioneer of civil rights and explores how and why the racial integration of professional baseball profoundly affected American society and culture. The introduction places Robinson's trailblazing achievement in the historical context of U.S. race relations. A rich collection of primary sources includes the voices of the black press and community as well as those of white commentators to reveal the range of responses to the integration of America's 'national pastime.'" A collection of documents under these headings: Segregation and Steps to Integration, A Black Man in White Baseball, The Great Experiment, Cold War Civil Rights, Remembering Robinson.

See Also

Alexander, Lisa Doris. When Baseball Isn't White, Straight and Male: The Media and Difference in the National Pastime. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012.

Bankes, James. The Pittsburgh Crawfords: The Life & Times of Black Baseball's Most Exciting Team. Dubuque: Wm.C. Brown, 1991.

Bruce, Janet. The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 1985.

Dorinson, Joseph, and Joram Warmund, eds. Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports, and the American Dream. Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 1999.

Falkner, David. Great Time Coming: The Life of Jackie Robinson, from Baseball to Birmingham. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Gregory, Sean. "A Legend's Lost Legacy." Time 8 April 2013.

Kahn, Roger. The Boys of Summer. New York: Harper and Row, 1971.

Kenny, Jack. "Jackie Robinson: Rebel With a Cause." New American 6 May 2013: 33-38.

Kirwin, Bill. Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2005.

Lamb, Chris. Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2006.

Linge, Mary Kay. Jackie Robinson: A Biography. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2007.

Long, Michael G., ed. First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson. New York: Henry Holt, 2007.

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America. New York: Disney/Jump at the Sun, 2012.

Robinson, Sharon. Jackie's Nine: Jackie Robinson's Values to Live By. New York: Scholastic 2001.

Robinson, Sharon. Promises To Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America. New York: Scholastic, 2004.

Simon, Scott. Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball. Hoboken: Wiley, 2002.

Tygiel, Jules. Extra Bases: Reflections on Jackie Robinson, Race, and Baseball History. U of Nebraska P, 2002.

Weintraub, Robert. Safe at Home: The Rebirth of the National Pastime after World War II. The Victory Season The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball's Golden Age. Boston: Little, Brown, 2013.

Williams, Pat; with Sielski, Mike. How to Be Like Jackie Robinson: Life Lessons from Baseball's Greatest Hero. Deerfield Beach: HCI, 2005.

Video/Audio Resources

Jackie Robinson. New York: A & E Home Video, 1991.
"Peter Graves reviews the life of Jackie Robinson, the American hero whose accomplishments went far beyond the ballpark and who personified a new definition of the phrase All-Star."
Jackie Robinson: Baseball Great. Bala Cynwyd: Schlessinger Video Productions, 1992.
"Black leaders and others talk about Jackie Robinson's life and career in sports. The first black player in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson provided a model for other blacks to succeed in sports. His last years were spent as a black activist leader."
Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story. New York: Docuramafilms : Distributed by New Video. 2010. 2011.
"Traces the Jewish involvement in the history of the sport from the game's earliest days, through the tumultuous war years to today's All-Star games. By analyzing various stages in this history, including how the legendary Sandy Koufax pioneered rights for players and Hank Greenberg's support of Jackie Robinson, the film demonstrates how Jews shaped baseball, and baseball shaped them."
The Journey of the African-American Athlete. New York: HBO Home Video, 1996.
"African-American athletes today are much-loved heroes in American sports, but this has not always been true. In the past, many black athletes were rejected and struggled to meet their fellow competitors on a level playing field. Captured here are some of the finest achievements in sports history: Joe Louis, Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens."

Online Resources

Ben Chapman and Jackie Robinson.
Article and blog on one of the key incidents in Robinson's career.
Greenwald, Dave. "Alumnus Jackie Robinson honored by Congress." UCLA Spotlight 1 February 2005.
"Jackie Robinson — the player who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier and the only athlete in UCLA history to letter in four sports (football, basketball, track and baseball) — has been posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal." Several links to other stories about Robinson.
Jackie Robinson Foundation
"Described in The New York Times in 2008 as what 'might be the best educational effort in the country,' the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) is a national, not–for–profit, organization founded in 1973 as a vehicle to perpetuate the memory of Jackie Robinson through the advancement of higher education among underserved populations. Uniquely, JRF provides generous four–year college scholarships in conjunction with a comprehensive set of skills and opportunities to disadvantaged students of color to ensure their success in college and to develop their leadership potential. JRF's hands–on, four–year program includes peer and professional mentoring, internship placement, extensive leadership training, international travel and community service options, the conveyance of practical life skills, and a myriad of networking opportunities. JRF's strategic combination of financial assistance and support services results consistently in a nearly 100% college graduation rate."
"Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese Statue in Brooklyn."
"The statue is a eight foot tall bronze statue of Reese with his arm around Robinson. The statue is of a moment in Cincinnati during Robinson's first game. As he was being heckled and cursed and called every name in the book, Reese walked across the field with his arm around Robinson. On the pedestal of the sculpture are six panels and includes an engraved description: 'This monument honors Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese: teammates, friends, and men of courage and conviction. Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Reese supported him, and together they made history. In May 1947, on Cincinnati's Crosley Field, Robinson endured racist taunts, jeers, and death threats that would have broken the spirit of a lesser man. Reese, captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked over to his teammate Robinson and stood by his side, silencing the taunts of the crowd. This simple gesture challenged prejudice and created a powerful and enduring friendship.'"
Jackie Robinson. Time 22 September 1947.
Time magazine cover in Robinson's rookie year.
Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
Collection of Robinson pictures from various sources.
Povich, Shirley. "The Ball Stayed White, but the Game Did Not." Washington Post 28 March 1997.
"Four hundred fifty-five years after Columbus discovered America, white America discovered that blacks could play major league baseball. The first definitive clue was offered by the fifth child of a Cairo, Ga., sharecropper who was selected for the daring racial experiment."
Schwartz, Larry. "Jackie changed face of sports."
"How should we remember this grandson of a slave and son of a sharecropper? Maybe by what he told a white New Orleans sportswriter: 'We ask for nothing special. We ask only to be permitted to live as you live, and as our nation's Constitution provides.' With such simple and justifiable demands, it's no wonder the man had such an impact on so many lives."