American Civil Rights Movement

Jul 21, 2020 in History Essay


Jackie Robinson and the American Civil Rights Movement


Long before he actively engaged in struggle against discrimination, Jackie Robinson’s participation in baseball had inspired the need for social integration amongst several Americans. Both blacks and whites were drawn by his ability to withstand racial segregation while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson proved himself as a man of great convictions and the one who took responsibility for those beliefs. The need to push on and demonstrate effective baseball skills played a critical role in influencing the racial challenges in the US. In fact, athletics could have been an important platform for him to realize his strength in advocating for the American society that did not pay attention to one’s color. After retiring from baseball, Robinson played an active role in the American Civil Rights Movement, a group that fought for the end to racial segregation and other forms of exclusion. Just like in baseball, Robinson demonstrated great passion and principles concerning the people’s equal rights and fair treatment. Through the movement, he has helped create a force that has rewritten the American history transforming it into an all-inclusive nation.

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Jackie Robinson’s Strengths as a Civil Rights Advocate

Jackie Robinson derived his power to campaign for the civil rights movement from several factors both internal and external. Internally, Jack was endowed with characteristics such as compassion, enthusiasm, respect, and integrity. The features allowed him to find the necessary support that he needed to ensure the movement kept to the course. Despite the insults that Robinson experienced during his time as a baseball player, he successfully controlled his anguish to make sure he remained on good terms with his teammates. Being the only African American at the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time was a challenge which he used to build his compassion (Mitchell, p. 134). The trait allowed him to understand the need for tolerance among individuals from different races.

Furthermore, enthusiasm became another greatest strength for Robinson. He established himself as a fighter and not a quitter in the time of struggle that helped him to develop the spirit of a go-getter who went as far as he could to see his mission succeed. For the man, fighting against segregation had become the responsibility that he did not wish to avoid (Joint Major League Steering Committee, p. 73-74). Thus, it had turned into an obligation and a noble duty for him to fulfill in his lifetime. Success is based on the passion of those who seek it. Robinson’s enthusiasm generated enough strength for him to carry on even when things seemed too harsh.

Additionally, Jackie Robinson encompassed respect and integrity both during his years as a player of baseball and an activist. Like many other leaders of the civil rights movement, Robinson advocated for peace as the crusade sought to have an integrated society. As such, he criticized those African-Americans who he felt did not live up to that task and encouraged them to embrace other people’s opinions. That was notable in the case of Malcolm X, an African American who struggled for Black Power and separatism. According to Robinson, Malcolm’s activism was more of an extremist group that hoped for more chaos than good (Robinson, p. 119). Thus, he criticized the approach used by Malcolm.

On the other hand, the external strengths that led to Robinson’s success included better social connections, the respect he received from others, and the movements he became involved into. As it has been already stated, his character that had been formed in the period he played baseball commanded respect from Americans from all walks of life including those in high political positions. Consequently, when he rose to speak against racial segregation, many listened to his views and supported them. His past in the sport arena had become a powerful source of his influence for the later years in the civil rights movement.

To continue, most African Americans regarded Robinson as a force that had overcome many tribulations to succeed. Thus, they viewed him as an inspiration for what they wanted to become. With such a fanatical support from the black people, his status in the community was well elevated that allowed him to take charge as an influential figure among the society members.

Besides the support of the black population, Jackie Robinson also drew the attention of the New York Jewish community who also suffered some segregation (Robinson, p. 129). Robinson’s case served as an example of how hatred and exclusion could become terminated for the Jews. Thus, Jackie’s activities in the movement captured a lot attention and support and made him look more of American rights activists as opposed to only serving the interests of African Americans.

Jackie Robinson’s Weaknesses as a Civil Rights Advocate

Despite the claim of political independence, Robinson’s wavering concerning the national politics could have weakened his position of the civil rights fighter. The lack of clarity on his political standing kept him away from possible influences he would have had directly on the American politics. Moreover, Jackie’s engagement into the political realignment at the time distanced him from the course of civil rights (Wilkins, p. 135-136). The support he offered to the movement dwindled that led to the reduction of the time he spent with other activists.

Furthermore, contrasting political opinions emanating from various leaders of the movement created disagreements among them. Although the differences were not strong enough, they did slow down the campaign to end segregation as they risked diverting the attention (Tindall, p. 1018). 66666

Another issue Robinson had was the poor health. The man suffered from diabetes that affected much of his family, slowed down his activities and, ultimately, took his life.

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Jackie Robinson’s Participation in Various Activities

Activities during the Baseball Career

Although engaged with baseball as well as serving at the U.S. Army, Robinson quietly did stand up for his rights. In July of 1944, he refused to follow a discriminative order that provided for a certain bus seating formula (Vernon, 2008). That was one of the earliest indications of how he detested segregation. After leaving the military in November 1944, Jackie was to sign in to play baseball for the Montreal Royals, Triple-A farm team of the Dodgers, in August 1945 (Brown, 1996). However, he signed an agreement in October of the same year. The following year, he married Rachel Isum right before becoming the first black sportsman to play a field game amongst white players in America in the 20th century (Zeiler, 2014).

On April 10, 1947, the Dodgers made an announcement that it had bought Robinson from Montreal Royals, and on the 15th of the same month, he made his first appearance at the National League debut held at Ebbets Field (McGee, p. 195, 2005). In September that year, Robinson was named a Rookie of the Year with Dodges having won the National League emblem. In 1945, Jackie testified against fellow African American, Paul Robeson, at the U.S. senate following hateful comments the latter had made in Paris (Kaiser, p. 342, 1998). Robinson made a final play at the World Series Championships in 1955 before retiring from the baseball two years later in 1957 (Zeiler, 2014).

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Activities after the Baseball Career

In his post baseball life, Robinson put his focus on advocating for the civil rights as well as engaging into politics. During this period, he considered himself as politically independent though he did occasionally take sides and supported the courses of several political players. Despite joining hands with other civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Jackie also made his opinion known in the mainstream American politics. For example, in 1960, he supported Richard Nixon for the presidency although the Republican candidate lost to John F. Kennedy, a Democrat (Taylor, 2016). Notwithstanding the numerous activities he had taken up after retiring as a player, Robinson also hosted a T.V. analysis of the Major League Baseball Game of the Week in 1965 becoming the first African American to do that (Rubinstein, 2003). Furthermore, his political engagement with the Nelson Rockefeller, the New York governor, earned him a position as a special assistant in charge of community affairs in 1966 (Robinson, 2013). The following year, he resigned from a civil rights organization as a sign of protest against the election of Roy Wilkins as the group’s president despite his old age. Later, in 1970, he founded the Jackie Robinson Construction Company that he hoped would assist the low-income families in construction activities (Zeiler, 2014).


The extent of Jackie’s influence on ending the American racial segregation was not only impressive, but it also made him an icon for integrated US society. After joining the Montreal Royals, Robinson became the first African American to play baseball amongst whites. His abilities in the sport soon earned him recognition and, eventually, fans from different walks of life. He inspired himself and others, both whites and blacks, to integrate. Ever since his time at the Dodgers, many people in America have regarded him as the key to African American participation in sports. Furthermore, his brand of moderate activism after retiring from sports won him respect during the civil rights movement. Today, his influence continues to be felt both because of his role in rights movement and baseball. 

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