This February for Black History Month, we at Hardwood Diva will be bringing you a month-long feature highlighting great Black athletes: our Game Changers.
First up, Jackie Robinson. As the first Black baseball player in the majors, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson not only showed his amazing sporting abilities, he also displayed his unique ability to keep cool under nearly insurmountable circumstances while breaking down barriers. In his first season, he was named Rookie of the Year, and often turned the other cheek while fans, owners, and other players treated him as trash. Dodgers GM Branch Rickey is widely known to have said that he chose Robinson to break the color barrier because he was “a Negro with guts enough not to fight back.” But when he was allowed to be himself after that historic rookie season, he became one of the fiercest competitors baseball had seen. He won NL MVP in 1949, and led the Dodgers to their lone title in 1955.
Off the field of play, Jackie Robinson continued to break down barriers. He was the first black television analyst in Major League Baseball. He also became the first black vice president of a major corporation. He always considered his career in business as an avenue to advance the presence of Black people in commerce and industry. Robinson used his stature in the sports community to continue to fight for black people politically and socially.
Jackie Robinson was one of the forefathers of the American Civil Rights Movement, and one of the greatest athletes in history regardless of sport.