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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repealed most of the laws that blatantly discriminated against blacks.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
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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