Jackie Robinson’s Battles for Equality On and Off the Baseball Field | History.com

When Robinson took his spot at first base, he broke baseball’s 50-year-old color barrier, which not only made him an icon to those fighting for racial equality, but also a target for those who sought to fight against it. Jackie’s poise and strength—both on and off the field—are why we still honor him today.


Robinson’s narrative doesn’t begin and end with that one April afternoon in Boston. His legacy was built as both an athlete and an activist over the course of his entire life.

In 1938, at Pasadena Junior College, he wasn’t just breaking records on the field (including the school record in the broad jump, which was previously held by his 1936 Olympic medal-winning brother, Mack). He was also standing up for the rights of his friends, as evidenced by his January 1938 arrest after speaking out when he felt the police were unlawfully holding an African American friend of his.

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