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The Sox had no intention of signing any of the players, nor did the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox, who orchestrated similar bogus auditions. But the public pressure and media publicity helped raise awareness and furthered the cause. Other politicians were allies in the crusade. Running for re-election to the New York City Council in , Ben Davis—an African-American former college football star, and a Communist—distributed a leaflet with the photos of two blacks, a dead soldier and a baseball player.

Left-wing Congressman Vito Marcantonio, who represented Harlem, called for an investigation of baseball's racist practices. This protest movement set the stage for Robinson's entrance into the major leagues. In October , Rickey announced that Robinson had signed a contract with the Dodgers. He sent Robinson to the Dodgers' minor-league team in Montreal for the season, then brought him up to the Brooklyn team on opening day, April 15, The Robinson experiment succeeded—on the field and at the box office.

Within a few years, the Dodgers had hired other black players—pitchers Don Newcombe and Joe Black, catcher Roy Campanella, infielder Jim Gilliam, and Cuban outfielder Sandy Amoros—who helped turn the s Dodgers into one of the greatest teams in baseball history. Viewers of 42 will see no evidence of the movement that made Robinson's—and the Dodgers'—success possible. For example, Andrew Holland plays Pittsburgh Courier reporter Wendell Smith, but he's depicted as Robinson's traveling companion and the ghost-writer for Robinson's newspaper column during his rookie season.

The film ignores Smith's key role as an agitator and leader of the long crusade to integrate baseball before Robinson became a household name. Robinson recognized that the dismantling of baseball's color line was a triumph of both a man and a movement. During and after his playing days, he joined the civil rights crusade, speaking out—in speeches, interviews, and his column—against racial injustice.

In , testifying before Congress, he said: "I'm not fooled because I've had a chance open to very few Negro Americans. Robinson viewed his sports celebrity as a platform from which to challenge American racism. Many sportswriters and most other players—including some of his fellow black players, content simply to be playing in the majors—considered Robinson too angry and vocal about racism in baseball and society.

When Robinson retired from baseball in , no team offered him a position as a coach, manager, or executive. Instead, he became an executive with the Chock Full o' Nuts restaurant chain and an advocate for integrating corporate America. He lent his name and prestige to several business ventures, including a construction company and a black-owned bank in Harlem. He got involved in these business activities primarily to help address the shortage of affordable housing and the persistent redlining lending discrimination against blacks by white-owned banks.

Both the construction company and the bank later fell on hard times and dimmed Robinson's confidence in black capitalism as a strategy for racial integration. In , Robinson supported Hubert Humphrey, the liberal Senator and civil rights stalwart from Minnesota, in his campaign for president.

When John Kennedy won the Democratic nomination, however, Robinson shocked his liberal fans by endorsing Richard Nixon. Robinson believed that Nixon had a better track record than JFK on civil rights issues, but by the end of the campaign—especially after Nixon refused to make an appearance in Harlem—he regretted his choice.

Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball's Color Barrier,

During the s, Robinson was a constant presence at civil rights rallies and picket lines, and chaired the NAACP's fundraising drive. Angered by the GOP's opposition to civil rights legislation, he supported Humphrey over Nixon in But he became increasingly frustrated by the pace of change. In , five years after Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, only six of major league baseball's 16 teams had a black player. It was not until that the last holdout, the Boston Red Sox, brought an African American onto its roster.

The black players who followed Robinson shattered the stereotype—once widespread among many team owners, sportswriters, and white fans—that there weren't many African Americans "qualified" to play at the major league level. Between and , black players won 8 out of 12 Rookie of the Year awards, and 9 out of 12 Most Valuable Player awards in the National League, which was much more integrated than the American League. But academic studies conducted from the s through the s uncovered persistent discrimination. For example, teams were likely to favor a weak-hitting white player over a weak-hitting black player to be a benchwarmer or a utility man.

And even the best black players had fewer and less lucrative commercial endorsements than their white counterparts. In the 16 years he lived after his retirement in , Robinson pushed baseball to hire blacks as managers and executives and even refused an invitation to participate in the Old Timers game because he did not yet see "genuine interest in breaking the barriers that deny access to managerial and front office positions. The majors' first black general manager—the Atlanta Braves' Bill Lucas—wasn't hired until Last season, players of color represented Black athletes represented only 8.

One quarter of last season's African-Americans players were clustered on three teams—the Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers. Their shrinking proportion is due primarily to the growing number of Latino But there are also sociological and economic reasons for the decline of black ballplayers. The semi-pro, sandlot, and industrial teams that once thrived in black communities, serving as feeders to the Negro Leagues and then the major leagues, have disappeared.

Basketball and football have replaced baseball as the most popular sports in black communities, where funding for public school baseball teams and neighborhood playgrounds with baseball fields has declined. One Latino Ruben Amaro Jr. Basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson, part of the new group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, is the first African-American owner of a major league team. Like baseball, American society—including our workplaces, Congress and other legislative bodies, friendships, and even families—is more integrated than it was in Robinson's day.

But there is still an ongoing debate about the magnitude of racial progress, as measured by persistent residential segregation, a significantly higher poverty rate among blacks than whites, and widespread racism within our criminal justice and prison systems. As Robinson understood, these inequities cannot be solved by individual effort alone. It also requires grassroots activism and protest to attain changes in government policy and business practices.

Robinson's legacy is to remind us of the unfinished agenda of the civil rights revolution and of the important role that movements play in moving the country closer to its ideals. In December , Paul Robeson, the prominent black actor, singer, and activist, addressed baseball's owners at their annual winter meeting in New York, urging them to integrate their teams. Under orders from Landis, they ignored Robeson and didn't ask him a single question. In , Isadore Muchnick, a progressive member of the Boston City Council, threatened to deny the Red Sox a permit to play on Sundays unless the team considered hiring black players.

The Sox had no intention of signing any of the players, nor did the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox, who orchestrated similar bogus auditions. But the public pressure and media publicity helped raise awareness and furthered the cause. Other politicians were allies in the crusade. Running for re-election to the New York City Council in , Ben Davis—an African-American former college football star, and a Communist—distributed a leaflet with the photos of two blacks, a dead soldier and a baseball player. Left-wing Congressman Vito Marcantonio, who represented Harlem, called for an investigation of baseball's racist practices.

This protest movement set the stage for Robinson's entrance into the major leagues. In October , Rickey announced that Robinson had signed a contract with the Dodgers.

He sent Robinson to the Dodgers' minor-league team in Montreal for the season, then brought him up to the Brooklyn team on opening day, April 15, The Robinson experiment succeeded—on the field and at the box office. Within a few years, the Dodgers had hired other black players—pitchers Don Newcombe and Joe Black, catcher Roy Campanella, infielder Jim Gilliam, and Cuban outfielder Sandy Amoros—who helped turn the s Dodgers into one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

Viewers of 42 will see no evidence of the movement that made Robinson's—and the Dodgers'—success possible.

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For example, Andrew Holland plays Pittsburgh Courier reporter Wendell Smith, but he's depicted as Robinson's traveling companion and the ghost-writer for Robinson's newspaper column during his rookie season. The film ignores Smith's key role as an agitator and leader of the long crusade to integrate baseball before Robinson became a household name. Robinson recognized that the dismantling of baseball's color line was a triumph of both a man and a movement. During and after his playing days, he joined the civil rights crusade, speaking out—in speeches, interviews, and his column—against racial injustice.

In , testifying before Congress, he said: "I'm not fooled because I've had a chance open to very few Negro Americans. Robinson viewed his sports celebrity as a platform from which to challenge American racism. Many sportswriters and most other players—including some of his fellow black players, content simply to be playing in the majors—considered Robinson too angry and vocal about racism in baseball and society. When Robinson retired from baseball in , no team offered him a position as a coach, manager, or executive.

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1945 Jackie Robinson Breaks The Color Line, Original Wire Photo

Instead, he became an executive with the Chock Full o' Nuts restaurant chain and an advocate for integrating corporate America. He lent his name and prestige to several business ventures, including a construction company and a black-owned bank in Harlem.

He got involved in these business activities primarily to help address the shortage of affordable housing and the persistent redlining lending discrimination against blacks by white-owned banks. Both the construction company and the bank later fell on hard times and dimmed Robinson's confidence in black capitalism as a strategy for racial integration. In , Robinson supported Hubert Humphrey, the liberal Senator and civil rights stalwart from Minnesota, in his campaign for president. When John Kennedy won the Democratic nomination, however, Robinson shocked his liberal fans by endorsing Richard Nixon.

Robinson believed that Nixon had a better track record than JFK on civil rights issues, but by the end of the campaign—especially after Nixon refused to make an appearance in Harlem—he regretted his choice. During the s, Robinson was a constant presence at civil rights rallies and picket lines, and chaired the NAACP's fundraising drive. Angered by the GOP's opposition to civil rights legislation, he supported Humphrey over Nixon in But he became increasingly frustrated by the pace of change. In , five years after Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, only six of major league baseball's 16 teams had a black player.

It was not until that the last holdout, the Boston Red Sox, brought an African American onto its roster. The black players who followed Robinson shattered the stereotype—once widespread among many team owners, sportswriters, and white fans—that there weren't many African Americans "qualified" to play at the major league level. Between and , black players won 8 out of 12 Rookie of the Year awards, and 9 out of 12 Most Valuable Player awards in the National League, which was much more integrated than the American League.

But academic studies conducted from the s through the s uncovered persistent discrimination. For example, teams were likely to favor a weak-hitting white player over a weak-hitting black player to be a benchwarmer or a utility man. And even the best black players had fewer and less lucrative commercial endorsements than their white counterparts. In the 16 years he lived after his retirement in , Robinson pushed baseball to hire blacks as managers and executives and even refused an invitation to participate in the Old Timers game because he did not yet see "genuine interest in breaking the barriers that deny access to managerial and front office positions.

The majors' first black general manager—the Atlanta Braves' Bill Lucas—wasn't hired until Last season, players of color represented Black athletes represented only 8. One quarter of last season's African-Americans players were clustered on three teams—the Yankees, Angels, and Dodgers. Their shrinking proportion is due primarily to the growing number of Latino But there are also sociological and economic reasons for the decline of black ballplayers.