|The date April 15, 1947 was an important one for
African Americans. On that day, Jack Roosevelt Robinson
(1919-1972), better known as Jackie Robinson, became the first
African-American Major League Baseball player.
As a member of the Montreal Royals (AAA farm team) and later the
Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson is remembered not only for his
athleticism, but for breaking the color barrier as well. In fact,
his impact was so great that Larry Doby, the first African-American
baseball player in the American League, joined the Cleveland
Indians only three months later. African American Satchel Paige
also became a Cleveland Indian the following year. Jackie Robinson
became a heroic symbol in African-American communities and served
as an inspiration to those who had never been given equal
opportunities to succeed.
Robinson had been a stellar athlete in college as well,
lettering in four sports at the University of California at Los
Angeles. Brought to the major leagues by the Brooklyn Dodgers'
general manager Branch Rickey, Robinson endured death threats,
physical abuse, and taunting. In the end, however, Robinson stood
victorious by becoming the first-ever Rookie of the Year in Major
League Baseball, winner of the National League batting title, and
Most Valuable Player for the 1949 season. Because of his success,
increasing numbers of African Americans began to play professional