February is Black History Month. Jack Roosevelt Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball player. Robinson was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB). He broke “the baseball color line” when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. It was believed to be the end of racial segregation in professional baseball. Prior to 1947, black players were only allowed to participate in the segregated “Negro League”. Robinson was Rookie of the Year in 1947 and named an All-Star from 1949 through 1954. In 1949, he was the first black player to be named the National League Most Valuable Player. Robinson played in six World Series championships including the Dodger win in 1955. He was the first player to have his uniform number retired across all major league teams. On Jackie Robinson Day, every player of every MLB team wears number 42 to commemorate his life and his personal and professional accomplishments. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
As a Civil Rights leader and non-violent activist, Robinson challenged the notion of separate but equal that permeated American life. After baseball, he became the first black television sports analyst and announcer and the first black spokesperson for a Major Corporation. He helped establish the “Freedom National Bank” that was an African American owned bank to provide loans and financial assistance to the black community. After his death, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. ________ *multiple sources (Breaking from our First Black Female Theme to honor Jackie Robinson during this important month.)