Opinions

Jackie Robinson’s Legacy Transcends Baseball

Jackie_Robinson,_Brooklyn_Dodgers,_1954

Picture of Jackie Robinson. Image courtesy of Wikipedia  Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jackie_Robinson,_Brooklyn_Dodgers,_1954.jpg

Jackie Robinson is looked at by many people as not just a ballplayer, but an American hero. He was remembered by many as wearing the number 42 and running hard each and every play. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first African American baseball player to play in Major League Baseball. He changed the way baseball is played forever, but he not only changed baseball, but he changed the world too.

Jackie Robinson was heavily involved with the Civil Rights Movement during and after retiring from professional baseball. For instance,  Robinson protested against the conservative Republican opposition of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an Act that outlawed discrimination based on someone’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. He was also a board member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The NAACP is an organization that advances initiatives that promote justice for African Americans.

jackie-robinson-and-martin-luther-king-jr-1962-raw

Picture of Martin Luther King and Jackie Robinson. Image courtesy of Dodger Insider. https://dodgers.mlblogs.com/martin-luther-king-and-jackie-robinson-a-collection-of-connection-cb010730d7a9

There is a lot that I personally admire about Jackie Robinson. I admire his patience and his character. It took a lot of discipline for him to keep his cool all the while people were constantly calling him names, or hurling racial epitaphs in his direction. In many ways, Jackie Robinson reminds me of Martin Luther King Jr. In their own, understated ways, they both fought for their rights through peaceful protest. Martin Luther King Jr peacefully protested in his marches, wrongful imprisonment, and speeches. While Jackie Robinson made his point by persevering despite the opposition.

On the field, Jackie Robinson faced rampant racism every single day. During games, players screamed racial slurs at Robinson constantly. The whole team sometimes would get kicked off the field because the opponent did not feel comfortable playing on the field with him. Despite all of this, Jackie Robinson was able to thrive in baseball and became MLB Rookie of the Year in 1947. Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, Robinson’s final statistics were a .311 batting average, with 137 home runs, and 734 RBI. Beyond the numbers, the evidence of Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments are still apparent today.

Jackie_Robinson_Signature_Credit_Hulton_Archive_Getty_Lead_tx700

Jackie Robinson played 10 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Image courtesy of KPBS. https://www.kpbs.org/news/2016/apr/04/jackie-robinson/

An example of this is that each year on April 15th, all players in Major League Baseball wear the number 42 to remember all that Jackie Robinson did for the sport of baseball and for America. He is the only person in the Major Leagues to have his number retired for all teams. For Robinson, the end of his career was not the end of his activism, as quoted in the book, I Never Had It Made, “the game of baseball is great, but the greatest thing is what you do after your career is over.” In this way, Jackie Robinson was not just an exceptional, Hall of Fame talent, but he was also a person who made an impact on the Civil Rights Movement and American society. Rightly so, Jackie Robinson’s legacy will always be an intertwining of his accomplishments on the field, as well as the difference he made after his career was over.

Christian Avara is a senior and a member of the Multimedia Journalism class.