Jackie Robinson was born on this day in 1919.
Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball, was born on this date in 1919. Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and played for the team for nine years. He was voted the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1949, and he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. Robinson died October 24, 1972.
In addition to his role as an athlete, Robinson fought publicly to end racial discrimination for others. The U.S. National Archive collection Beyond the Playing Field-Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate includes messages Robinson sent to the White House from 1957 to 1972. After reading these messages, have students discuss Robinson's attributes as both an athlete and a civil rights activist. They can use the interactive Bio-Cube to organize the information about Robinson. More tips are available for use with the Bio-Cube.
Once your students have a sense of who Robinson was, expand your discussion to the more general issue of the role of athletes in society. Brainstorm a list of attributes important to being a good athlete in any sport at any level of play. Then, in groups, have students select one of the attributes and write about how that character trait would be useful in other areas of life. For instance, a high degree of dedication certainly translates outside of the sports arena. In what other walks of life might dedication be an essential characteristic?
This Library of Congress site presents information about the life and career of Jackie Robinson as well as highlights from a century of baseball.
This Baseball Hall of Fame Web page offers statistics about Robinson's career and his other contributions to baseball.
Jackie Robinson and many other extraordinary athletes had been playing in the Negro Baseball League for years before Robinson broke the "color barrier" in the Major Leagues. This site offers information about the history of the Negro Leagues, as well as information about the museum itself.
Read about the life of Jackie Robinson in this interview with his wife, Rachel Robinson, from Scholastic. Robinson answered questions from students during a 1998 live interview.