In the book, “Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma,”John Wilson explains Robinson’s fight with segregation and the effect he lefton American sports. The author begins the biography with Robinson’s childhooddays; he expressed that Jackie was a huge force in the fight againstsegregation and changed the perspective of racism. Robinson was an incrediblebaseball player and his biography is rich with his achievements. His charismaand strength raised the spirits of African Americans.
One of Robinson’s biggest inspirations was his mother,Mallie Robinson. She was a hardworkingwoman and she was very religious. Although they were the only Black family onthe block, she raised her five children well to never receive any complaintsfrom any of the neighbors.
Jackie, along with his brothers, excelled at sportsfrom an early age. His dedication towards sports started as early as middleschool when he joined a small group comprised of the best athletes in theneighborhood; other groups formed and played against each other. However, themischievous members used to “steal fruits from orchards or fruit stands, throwdirt clods at cars or rocks at street lights” (Wilson 7). Luckily, Jack hadmany positive influences to stay on the right path; for the sake of his mother,Mallie, Jackie educated himself to become a valuable member of his family. Jackie was impactful in many sports,including football, baseball, basketball, etc. He had many achievements, andbecause of this, many white men put value in him as an athlete. He was gettingrecognition that many African Americans were segregated against.
Robinson enrolled in PasadenaJunior College, but soon began to doubt his education when his older brother Mack,began to work as a janitor even though he had an immaculate education andachievements. “Jack was convinced that no matter how much education or fame ablack earned, he would have minimal opportunity I any professional endeavor”(Wilson 11). Jackie continued to excel in sports despite of the racial commentshe received from opposing teams members from different colleges. In some cases,Jackie did not hold back his anger upon racial comments and fights broke out onthe field with opposing players. Several times, Robinson had spent nights inthe jail due to no resistance towards segregation. After spending twosuccessful years in University of California Los Angeles, Robinson dropped outdue to a couple of losses from his teams. After working several jobs to supporthis family, Robinson joined the US Army and served for two years. After thesegregation incident on the bus, Robinson was discharged from the Army.
Thisincident, was just one of the many which strengthened Robinson’s will andspirit to break the color barrier. Although he loyally served in the army for31 months, Jackie was discharged with no veteran benefits. These incidents committedhim to seek justice for African Americans more than ever. His spirit wasraised, and he maintained his belief in God and thanked him for the strengthshe received from these incidents. According to Wilson, “army segregation raiseduncomfortable questions about that American dilemma, how the nation was notliving up to its stated ideals, and with the United States engaged in a war gotdemocracy abroad, the failures of democracy at home were increasinglyembarrassing” (Wilson 37).
Robinsonquickly moved forward, earning jobs related to his favorite sport baseball.When Robinson joined the Kansas Monarchs, he did not realize he would ever besigned up for the Dodgers. He played whole-heartedly when he was a Monarch,however the spirits of his teammates were very uncompetitive for the dignifiedRobinson. As Wilson explains, “The team seemed to play rather casually andsloppily, turning up the energy level only intermittently and sometimes justquitting a game after six or seven innings” (Wilson 46). However, during hisdays in the team, Robinson’s rage for segregation was beginning to show. Therewere times when his team was not allowed in hotels or diners. He was onceforbidden to use a restroom at a gas station.
Nevertheless, his teammatesaccepted their fate as they had no better viable options. They had lost thehope for advancement long ago, unlike Robinson. In 1946, Jackie finally signs acontract with the Dodgers organizations, which began as his first step towardsending the racial color barrier.
Before Jackie Robinson, the last black playerin American baseball was in the 1880s, who did not last very long and did nothave significant impact in breaking the barrier. Robinson’slife significantly changed when Branch Rickey, A Major League Baseballexecutive, approached him. Rickey and Robinson shared the same goals: anintegrated baseball league. Rickey was strictly feared God and his punishmentin hereafter, therefore he took a leap against segregation and signed thecontract with Robinson. According to Rickey, Robinson was proud and defiant, buthe was in self-control and religious. Black struggle for equality began to easeas soon as media covered this news of Robinson joining the Dodgers. Some Whitepress exclaimed that, “if Robinson hits homers and plays a whale of a game forMontreal, the fans will soon lose the sight of his color” (Wilson 63).
Practiceafter practice, among other White teammates, news began to spread, and theracial barrier began to break. As anticipated by Rickey and Robinson, otherBlack baseball players began to join the Leagues, with Jackie as theirinspiration. About 4,000 people came to watch the first game Robinson played,and several Black children cheered for their role model. A time came whenseveral White teammates of Robinson signed a pact to not play with a Black manin their team. When their manager, Leo Durocher found out he aggressivelyremarked that he did not care about the race of a great baseball player,however Durocher was only selfish and did not want to give up Robinson’stalents.
Game after game, Robinson’s teammates began to approach him, asked himto shower