In the book, “Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma,”John Wilson explains Robinson’s fight with segregation and the effect he lefton American sports. John Wilson begins the biography with Robinson’s childhooddays, he then moves forward and expresses how Jackie changes the perspective ofracist Americans. Towards the end of the biography, Wilson briefly lists anumber of difficulties Robinson faces because of his family and theassassinations happening in America. As Wilson describes it, “in the space of amere three months in early 1968, Robinson suffered through five personal andpolitical disasters of a magnitude that would have destroyed the spirit of aweaker man” (Wilson, 177). Overall, Robinson’s biography is filled withachievements which raised the spirits of African Americans at that time, aswell as other races till today.
Jackie’smother, Mallie Robinson, was his biggest inspiration in his childhood days. Shewas dedicated towards working hard and earning money; and more dedicatedtowards God. Although they were the only Black family on the block, she raisedher five children well to never receive any complaints from any of theneighbors. Jackie, along with his brothers, excelled at sports from an earlyage. His dedication towards sports started as early as middle school when hejoined a small “gang” with the best athletes in the neighborhood and togetherthey competed with other gangs. However, the mischievous gang members used to “stealfruits from orchards or fruit stands, throw dirt clods at cars or rocks atstreet lights” (Wilson 7). Fortunately for Jack, he had a police officer, a mechanic,and the church pastor encourage him to follow the right path; for the sake ofhis mother, Mallie, Jackie focused on educating himself to become a valuablemember of his family. Along withexcelling at football, baseball, basketball and track, Jackie also receivedachievements which made his peers recognize him as a talented African American.
After graduating high school, Jackie enrolled in Pasadena Junior College, butsoon began to doubt his necessity of education when his older brother Mack, anational winner at track, began to work as a sweeper despite of his educationand achievements. “Jack was convinced that no matter how much education orfame a black earned, he would have minimal opportunity I any professionalendeavor” (Wilson 11). Jackie continued to excel in sports despite of theracial comments he received from opposing teams members from differentcolleges. In some cases, Jackie did not hold back his anger upon racialcomments and fights broke out on the field with opposing players. Severaltimes, Robinson had spent nights in the jail due to no resistance towardssegregation. After spending two successful years in University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, Robinson dropped out due to a couple of losses from his teams.
After working several jobs to support his family, Robinson joined the US Armyand served for two years. After the segregation incident on the bus, Robinsonwas discharged from the Army. This incident, was just one of the many whichstrengthened Robinson’s will and spirit to break the color barrier. Although heloyally served in the army for 31 months, Jackie was discharged with no veteranbenefits; these incidents committed him to seek justice for Blacks more thanever. His spirit was raised, and he maintained his belief in God and thankedhim for the strengths he received from these incidents. According to Wilson,”army segregation raised uncomfortable questions about that American dilemma,how the nation was not living up to its stated ideals, and with the UnitedStates engaged in a war got democracy abroad, the failures of democracy at homewere increasingly embarrassing” (Wilson 37). Robinsonquickly moved forward, earning jobs related to his favorite sport baseball.When Robinson joined the Kansas Monarchs, he did not realize he would ever besigned up for the Dodgers.
He played whole-heartedly when he was a Monarch, howeverthe spirits of his teammates were very uncompetitive for the dignifiedRobinson. As Wilson explains, “The team seemed to play rather casually andsloppily, turning up the energy level only intermittently and sometimes justquitting a game after six or seven innings” (Wilson 46). However, during hisdays in the team, Robinson’s rage for segregation was beginning to show. Therewere times when his team was not allowed in hotels or diners. He was onceforbidden to use a restroom at a gas station. Nevertheless, his teammatesaccepted their fate as they had no better viable options.
They had lost thehope for advancement long ago, unlike Robinson. In 1946, Jackie finally signs acontract with the Dodgers organizations, which began as his first step towardsending the racial color barrier. Before Jackie Robinson, the last black playerin American baseball was in the 1880s, who did not last very long and did nothave significant impact in breaking the barrier. Robinson’slife significantly changed when Branch Rickey, A Major League Baseballexecutive, approached him. Rickey and Robinson shared the same goals: anintegrated baseball league. Rickey was strictly feared God and his punishmentin hereafter, therefore he took a leap against segregation and signed thecontract with Robinson. According to Rickey, Robinson was proud and defiant,but he was in self-control and religious. Black struggle for equality began toease as soon as media covered this news of Robinson joining the Dodgers.
SomeWhite press exclaimed that, “if Robinson hits homers and plays a whale of agame for Montreal, the fans will soon lose the sight of his color” (Wilson 63).Practice after practice, among other White teammates, news began to spread, andthe racial barrier began to break. As anticipated by Rickey and Robinson, otherBlack baseball players began to join the Leagues, with Jackie as theirinspiration. About 4,000 people came to watch the first game Robinson played,and several Black children cheered for their role model. A time came whenseveral White teammates of Robinson signed a pact to not play with a Black manin their team.
When their manager, Leo