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Discrimination Essay, Research Paper

Throughout history many different minority groups have been

discriminated against. Although some of these minority groups are hated

many members of these groups continue to make positive contributions to

American society that help shape our country. One of these individuals is

Jackie Robinson. His influence on the game of baseball has set standards for

all of baseball fans to admire. The message he made Americans realize is

that Blacks are just as capable of doing things as whites are, and any other

group for that matter.

Throughout most of American history African Americans have been

discriminated against for no reason other that the fact that their skin is a

different color. Hatred of blacks stems back to the days of slavery. Blacks

have arguably had it the toughest out of all of the minority groups in

American history. From being able to use the same bathrooms as whites to

not being able to attend school to not being able to hold a job just because of

the color of their skin.

The end of the civil war marked the time when the fight for equality

took full swing. After the war southern state legislators, dominated by

former confederates, passed laws known as black codes that severely limited

the rights of black. The codes were slightly different from state to state but

they usually contained limitations on black occupations and property owning.

In response to these laws, Congress, in 1866 seized the initiative of the

remaking of the south. Congress, especially the Republicans, wanted to

ensure that the south was correctly rebuilt with the newly freed blacks as

visible members of society. By 1868 integrated southern legislators had

repealed most of the laws that blatantly discriminated against blacks.

Many of these unjust codes in the south led to the creation of three

new constitutional amendments. The 13th amendment abolished slavery.

The 14th amendment made blacks citizens of the united states and prohibited

state laws that denied citizens equal protection under the law. the 15th

amendment, which was passed in 1870, prohibited racial discrimination in

voting. Congress also passed a number of enforcement acts designed to

implement the new amendments.

However, by 1877 the democratic party had regained control of the

southern states, ending reconstruction. The strides that blacks had made,

holding political offices, having the right to vote, and participating as equal

members of society, were reversed. With the Democrats in power, the south

gradually re-imposed racially discriminatory laws. In order to take away

black political power gained during reconstruction, the democratic party in

the south began to prevent them from voting. There were a variety of

methods to stop blacks from voting, including poll taxes, fees which were

charged at voting booths that most blacks could not afford, and literacy test,

which required that voters were able to read and write. Since it had been

illegal to teach slaves how to read, most adult former slaves were illiterate.

The democrats also began to create a segregated society that separated blacks

from whites in almost every sphere of life. They passed laws that created

separate schools and separate facilities.

In addition the supreme court turned its back on racial equality. In the civil

rights cases, the court declared that congress had no power to prevent private

acts of discrimination. Discrimination still exists today as much as you

would like to believe otherwise. It is unfortunate that it does and in some

cases there is nothing you can do about it. If I was to write this paper on the

amount of discriminations that blacks alone had to face it would be


Before the 20th century several predominately white baseball teams

had at one time fielded black players. The first black player to become

widely known was John Jackson. For unknown reasons, he played baseball

under the name John Bud Fowler. The earliest mention of Fowlers a player

appeared in 1878, when he pitched for a team in Chealsa, Mass. Fowler also

played second base for several other primary white minor league clubs during

the 1870 s and 1880 s.

In 1883 manager Cap Anson of the Chicago White Stockings (later the

Chicago Cubs) announced that he would not allow his team to play any team

that had black players on their roster. When the White Stalking s played

Toledo the teams black catcher was kept out of the starting lineup, although

he joined the game later. In 1887 Anson carried out his threat, and a game

with Walker and black pitching star George Stovey was cancelled. Other

owners and managers later adopted Anson s policy. Fleet Walker and his

both Welday Walker were the last black players in baseball until 1947.

Jackie Robinson was the next African American to play major league

baseball. Jackie was born in Cairo, Georgia in 1919. He was the youngest

child of Jerry and Mallie Robinson.

In his high school attending John Muir Technical High School Jackie

was a star athlete in football, baseball, track and basketball. Unfortunately

for Jackie and much to the disappointment of his family, he was only able to

achieve the minimum average necessary to be eligible for varsity athletics.

Luckily for Jackie he was able to achieve an athletic scholarship for football

to attend UCLA. While attending school there Jackie became the 1st UCLA

student athlete to achieve varsity letters in 4 sports.

In 1941 Jackie left college to join the US army. He attended Officers

Candidate School, and after graduating he became a second lieutenant in

what was then a segregated army. Jackie often did not agree with the way

blacks in his unit were treated. He was such a strong believer in equal rights

that he had to be arrested by military police when he refused a bus drivers

orders to sit in the back of the bus. A court martial aquitted him and in 1944

he received an honorable discharge with the ranks of 1st lieutenant. After

his discharge he coached for a semester at the Samuel Houston College for

Negroes in Austin, Texas. There he set up the schools first complete physical

training program and coached the basketball team to the city championship.

Many of his athletic medals and trophies remained on display there after

Jackie decided to accept a $400 dollar a month position playing baseball with

the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American Baseball leagues. Later

that year, Robinson signed with Branch Rickey, the general manger of the

Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson spent the 1946 season playing with the

Montreal Royal s of the international league which was a minor league team

of the Dodgers. After one season with the Royal s Jackie was called up to

the Brooklyn team in 1947, becoming the first black player to play major

league baseball in the 20th century. He made his Dodger debut at first base

on April 15, 1947.

Breaking baseballs color barrier was a serious challenge, and Robinson

met fierce resistance from many players and fans who believed in the

separation of people on the basis of race. Warned by Branch Ricky not to

retaliate or acknowledge taunts, Robinson endured malicious catcalls and

racial slurs from the stands. He also received unsigned death threats saying if

he continued to play baseball he would be killed. Some rival players went

beyond verbal abuse to intimidate Jackie. They threw pitches at Robinson s

head, spat on him, when they slid into the base he was covering they would

attempt to injure him with the spikes on their shoes. With the support of

Branch Rickey and a little encouragement from his teammates, the

determined Robinson survived these attacks and helped the Dodgers win the

National League pennant in 1947. During the season he led the NL with 29

stolen bases; sportswriters named the courageous and talented Robinson

rookie of the year.

Graceful fielding, timely hitting, and aggressive baserunning typified

Robinson s exiting style of play. Over ten seasons Robinson executed on of

baseballs most exciting plays, stealing home, not once but 19 times.

Robinson s contributions won new Dodger fans, increased attendance, and

helped make the Dodgers one of the most competitive teams in baseball. His

success with the Dodgers also opened the way for other black players to sigh

major league contracts. It wasn t until 1959 that all 16 major league teams

had at least one black player on their roster.

Robinson retired from baseball after the 1956 season. He finished

with a .311 career batting average. Robinson was introduced to the National

Baseball hall of fame in 1962, the first black player to receive that honor.

Robinson also wanted to be the first black manager of a major league team

but unfortunately no team offered him that position.

There is a reason why so many young black men have tried to follow

in Robinson s footsteps, pouring all their ambition into the hope of becoming

a professional athlete. Sports is one of the few arenas of American society in

which the playing field is really level. If you get across the finish line first,

you win; no one claims that you are lowering standards. If you are as good

as Robinson was, your acclaim transcends racial boundaries. But unless you

get a chance to compete, you can never demonstrate your ability.

Robinson had the guts to speak out against racial injustice after he

retired from baseball. In 1963 he traveled to Birmingham to be with Martin

Luther King Jr. after four little black girls were blown to bits in the bombing

of a church. The answer for the Negro is to be found, not in segregation or

separation, but by his insistence upon moving into his rightful place, the

same place as that of any other American within our society, he argued. He

didn t back down from his integrationist stance even when more militant

blacks called him an uncle tom.

As a tribute to Jackie Robinson Major league baseball recently held the

50th anniversary to his entrance into the majors. As a remembrance of

Jackie Robinson s contributions not only to baseball, but to all of society his

number 42 is retired from all teams from now on.

Jackie Robinson has won a place in many Americans hearts as well in

many history books. I think this is a good thing and his message should be

tought to many new generations. I feel that if one person could realize the

injustices of our society that why cant the rest of the people realize the same

thing. Is the color of someone s skin a justifiable reason to hate them. I

guess the answer to that question is up to you. If you are going to be ignorant

enough to hate someone because of the color of their skin you leave yourself

open to be hated for something as minute as that as well. If people would

just sit down and think about why they hate a certain race or religious group

they would realize that there is no point, life is to short to spend hating


Works Cited

John M Rosenburg, The Story of baseball, Random House, New York


Current Biography 1947, The H.W. Wilson Company

Chadwick, Alex. Illistrated History Of Baseball. London England: Bison

Group,1988 pp77 78 84 87

Segregation in the United States, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. c

1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation

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