Jackie Robinson and Race in America A Brief History with Documents

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 12/18/2013
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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Jackie Robinson made history when he debuted in major league baseball in 1947. This volume recounts Robinson’s story as a pioneer of civil rights and explores how and why the racial integration of professional baseball profoundly affected American society and culture. The introduction places Robinson’s trailblazing achievement in the historical context of U.S. race relations. A rich collection of primary sources includes the voices of the black press and community as well as those of white commentators to reveal the range of responses to the integration of America’s "national pastime." Illustrations, document headnotes, a chronology, questions to consider, and a bibliography enrich students’ understanding of Robinson and race in America.

Author Biography

Thomas W. Zeiler (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts-Amherst) is professor of history at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he teaches American diplomatic history, modern U.S. history, World War II, and American history through baseball. His works include Free Trade, Free World: America and the Advent of GATT, Globalization and the American Century, Annihilation: A Global Military History of World War II, and Ambassadors in Pinstripes: The Spalding World Baseball Tour and the Birth of the American Empire. He is editor of the journal Diplomatic History and a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Table of Contents



List of Illustrations


Robinson’s Early Years

Baseball, the National Pastime

Jim Crow on the Baseball Diamond

Double V: Victory over Racism Abroad and at Home

Robinson at War

Baseball at War

A Black Man in Baseball

Fighting for Civil Rights in a Cold War World

Robinson’s Legacy


1. Segregation and Steps to Integration

1. "A Fan Wants Negro Stars," Daily Worker, February 14, 1937

2. Westbrook Pegler, "Baseball Treats Negroes as Hitler Does Jews," Pittsburgh Press, August 4, 1938

3. Letter from Lieutenant Jack Robinson to Assistant Secretary of War Truman K. Gibson, July 16, 1944

4. Recommended Report for the Mayor’s Committee on Baseball, September 28, 1945

5. Jackie Robinson and Wendell Smith, Jackie Robinson: My Own Story, "Interview with Branch Rickey," 1948

6. "Baseball Gives Contract to First Negro Player," Chicago Daily Tribune, October 25, 1945

7. "Club Heads Give Views," New York Times, October 24, 1945

8. "A Crack in Baseball Jim Crow," New York Amsterdam News, November 3, 1945

9. Jackie Robinson and Wendell Smith, Jackie Robinson: My Own Story, "Facing Jim Crow," 1948

2. A Black Man in White Baseball

10. Wendell Smith, "It Was a Great Day in Jersey," Pittsburgh Courier, April 27, 1946

11. "NAACP Youth Group Boycotts Dixie Club," Chicago Defender, May 25, 1946

12. Major League Committee, Report to Commissioner of Baseball A. B. Chandler, August 27, 1946

13. "Big Leaguers Put Okay on Robinson," Pittsburgh Courier, October 12, 1946

14. "Adventures in Race Relations," Chicago Defender, November 2, 1946

15. Jackie Robinson, "Jackie Robinson Says," Pittsburgh Courier, April 5, 1947

16. Louis Effrat, "Royals’ Star Signs with Brooks Today," New York Times, April 11, 1947

17. Jackie Robinson, "Jackie Robinson Says," Pittsburgh Courier, April 19, 1947

3. The Great Experiment

18. "Let’s Help Jackie Do It!," New York Amsterdam News, April 19, 1947

19. "A Negro in the Major Leagues," Sporting News, April 23, 1947

20. Lester Rodney, Interview with Effa Manley, Daily Worker, April 29, 1947

21. Jimmy Cannon, "Lynch Mobs Don’t Always Wear Hoods," New York Times, November 19, 1945

22. "Jackie Robinson Continues to ‘Pack ‘Em In’ at Gate," Atlanta Daily World, May 27, 1947

23. Sample of Hate Mail, Received May 20, 1951

24. Jackie Robinson, "Jackie Robinson Says," Pittsburgh Courier, May 17, 1947

25. Henry Foner, "The Meaning of Jackie for the Jewish Race," 1998

26. James A. Mannix, "An Open Letter to Jackie Robinson," New York Amsterdam News, September 13, 1947

27. Roy Wilkins, "The Watchtower," Los Angeles Sentinel, January 1, 1948

28. Henry Brown, "Jackie, Campanella Break Texas Park Records," Chicago Defender, April 17, 1948

29. "Reject Bowl Invite over Race Issue," Chicago Defender, December 4, 1948

30. Buddy Johnson and Count Basie, "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit that Ball?," June 1949

4. Cold War Civil Rights

31. President Harry S. Truman, Special Message to Congress on Civil Rights, February 2, 1948

32. "Text of Jackie Robinson’s Statement to House Unit," New York Times, July 19, 1949

33. Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, May 13, 1958

34. Telegram from Jackie Robinson to President John F. Kennedy, June 15, 1963

35. Letter from Jackie Robinson to Malcolm X, November 27, 1963.

36. Jackie Robinson, Address to Rochester Jaycees’ Luncheon Forum, September 20, 1966

37. "Robinson Backs Defense of Black Group, but Mrs. Basie Defers," Pan African Press, July 17, 1968

38. Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Lyndon B. Johnson, April 18, 1967

39. Letter from Jackie Robinson to Deputy Special Assistant to the President Roland L. Elliott, April 20, 1972

40. Jackie Robinson, I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography, 1973

5. Remembering Robinson

41. Jesse Jackson, Eulogy for Jackie Robinson, October 27, 1972

42. Letter from Assistant Attorney General of Oklahoma Robert Mitchell to Rachel Robinson, November 7, 1972

43. Roy Wilkins, "What Has Jackie Done?," Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 15, 1972

44. Rabbi A. James Rudin, "In Memory of Jackie Robinson," November 26, 1972

45. Scholastic, Interview with Rachel Robinson, February 11, 1998


A Chronology of Jackie Robinson and Race Issues in Baseball and America (1867-2011)

Questions for Consideration

Selected Bibliography


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