In 1896, in Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal accommodations for blacks and whites were constitutional. Seven years before the doctrine was overturned, in 1954, Jackie Robinson signed a contract with the major leagues; he defined his experience as being “a black man in a white world” (279). With the separate but equal doctrine still in place, how was Jackie Robinson able to land a contract with the major leagues, and what role did he play in the Civil Rights Movement?
Ever since he was a little boy, Jackie Robinson endured excessive racial discrimination. He said, “I must have been about 8 years old the first time I ran into racial trouble,” describing an encounter with his neighbor (5). He was outside his home in Pasadena minding his own business when a girl across the street started bawling racial remarks at him. When he answered with retaliation, the girl’s father stepped outside onto the lawn. ...view middle of the document...
The seats were comfortable and commodious; they even had a little push button that allowed the seats to recline. At one of the stops along the route, additional people boarded the bus, forcing Jackie and Rachel to surrender their seats. He said, “the driver gestured us to the back” which is where the seats for the colored people were. When they made their way to the back of the bus, they realized the seats were dreadfully crowded and many of them did not even have adequate space to sit down. He also described the seats as “straight-backed, no little push button, and no reclining seats” meaning that seats reserved for colored people were far less accommodating than those for the whites (40).
The racial discrimination that Jackie Robinson suffered, motivated him to push the Civil Rights Movement to the next level. He successfully made his contribution when he broke the color barrier by becoming the first black person to ever perform in a major league baseball game. However, this was not always a pleasurable experience for him. Even his own team’s fans taunted him, however, he was forced to disregard these ruthless comments to prevent the occurrence of a violent outbreak. Despite being discriminated against, he had an adequate contract for the time period; he described it as a “$600 [per] month salary” with a “$3,500 bonus” (34).
Throughout his life, Jackie Robinson endured severe discrimination. He first noticed it when he was young, but the predicaments did not cease. Instead, the struggles only continued to grow worse as he grew older. The problems he faced motivated Jackie, and gave him the courage, to fight for equality among blacks and whites. At the time of his death, racial discrimination was still an issue; however, breaking the color barrier along with his other achievements helped the push for equal rights. Even though he had to tolerate unwarranted gestures, his fans eventually grew to love him and he became a real hero in the Civil Rights Movement.
Robinson, Jackie, and Alfred Duckett. I Never Had It Made. New York: Putnam, 1972. Print.
Zimmerman, Thomas. "Plessy v. Ferguson." Bowling Green State University website (1997).