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African American Athlete: Their Role In American Culture

2341 words - 10 pages

Robinson had a rough start to his career at UCLA, within months of enrollment his brother passed away and Jackie got arrested for standing up for his and other African American’s rights. Jackie and a group of young black men were being taunted by a group of white men, being called “niggers”. Jackie decided to “pop him with my glove, slapped him in the face” (Rampersad p 65) Robinson was only slightly fazed and would later recount that this was “my first personal experience with bigotry of the meanest sort.” It was evident that these acts were strictly due to the fact that he was African American. It was the perfect example of the type of unlawful behavior that Jackie would come into contact with at UCLA and beyond. As his college career continued, he would often come into contact with cheap play, while this type of behavior is prevalent in even the most segregated sports it was clear that this wasn’t cheap play for cheap plays sake, they were deliberate attempts to destroy his career, knock him out of games and get under his skin. These attempts were launched from all angles; media, teammates and even recognition of his play. His last year at UCLA landed him in Chicago playing in an all-star game composed of the top college players against the Chicago bears. Following his two years at UCLA, he decided that he needed to ease the burden on his family and took a job as an athletic director for the National Youth Administration. This experience did not last long due to the war breaking out in Europe. Jackie then went on to play semi professional football in California and Hawaii. He played for the Honolulu Bears where they got him a job with a construction company and he played on Sundays. He wanted to get back to California and was able to leave Honolulu two days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He was subsequently drafted and sent to Fort Riley, Kansas. (Robinson, 40-41) He entered the army during the height of the Jim Crow laws and was once again faced with severe scrutiny and discrimination. Following basic training, Jackie applied for officer candidate school, “it was then that I received my first lesion about the fate of a black man in the Jim Crow Army” (Robinson, p 41). He was subsequently made moral officer and there was definitive discrimination about seating in the Post Exchange where everyone would congregate for snacks and other activities. Jackie was so annoyed at the limited number of seats assigned to black men that he called the Provost Marshall. He “told him about the lack of seats for blacks and tried to appeal to the major by saying that we were all in this war together and it seemed to me that everyone should have the same basic rights” (Robinson, 43). Robinson was so outraged by the lack of willingness to provide basic rights that he screamed into the phone so loudly that he was sent to the Colonel’s office. There the Colonel “listened sympathetically and said he would write a letter to the commanding general...

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