Breaking Baseball’s Color Barrier

Essential Question: How do we evaluate the impact that Jackie Robinson had on racial segregation by breaking baseball’s color barrier.

Historical Context

Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, when he suited up in competition as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Up until the point that Robinson took the field that day, it had been 50 years that Major League hadn’t had a single person of color on one of their teams. Not only did Robinson taking the field that day open up an invitation for colored players to be included in baseball, but also opened up an invitation for Jackie to receive insults and other threats/comments from other players, teams, and fans alike. It is the noble and honorable way in which Jackie handled this that is a big reason we as Americans honor him today.

Jackie Robinson in his Brooklyn Dodgers uniform (Link)

The greatness about Robinson’s story is the fact that it doesn’t nearly begin and end that April day in 1947 when he took the field. He would become a person who’s legacy reflected a life-long journey of activism.

Jackie went on to attend UCLA where he earned the achievement of being the first athlete, no matter of race, white or black, to letter in 4 different sports (track and field, football, basketball, and baseball). While in school, Robinson did amazing in the classroom and demonstrated great character. A couple years after college, he was drafted in the United States Army. As a result of his qualities and achievements above, Robinson should have been a no doubt recipient for Officers Candidate School in the army, but his color of skin denied him and others of the same race. Not deterred, Jackie would turn towards a friend of his and heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, who was at the same Fort Robinson was applying to, and within a few weeks, with the help of Lewis and the determination of Robinson, the other candidates of color and Jackie got into Officers Candidate School.

When Jackie was discharged from the army, he went on to go back to playing baseball, signing with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, a baseball league of all colored players in which they were allowed to play. It was at this time, that the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, a fellow by the name of Branch Rickey, had heard of Jackie and who he was and decided he would make Jackie the one to break the baseball color barrier.

While becoming the first African American player in the majors could have been his legacy on its own, Robinson made sure that he wasn’t just a name in a box score that one time in 1947. He starred for the Dodgers, winning the 1947 Rookie of the Year Award, helping Brooklyn reach the World Series (they lost to the New York Yankees). That year, as per an agreement with Rickey, he also learned how to fight back without fighting. Rather than react to the constant racial abuse from fans and other teams alike, Jackie used unfathomable restraint and poise, turning the other cheek so as not to give his detractors any reason to end Rickey’s “experiment.”

When Jackie made it to the big leagues, it would have been a big enough story as it is on its own that he was the one to break the color barrier. Jackie made sure that his story didn’t end only with that. He won the 1947 rookie of the year award, given to the top new player in baseball, and he helped the Dodgers make the World Series. He would go on to have a hall of fame career.

Historian’s Process

Image result for american racial segregation
A girl at a colored people designated water fountain (Link)

This site gives you the chance to “be the historian.” As you analyze each document, take into account both the sources of the documents and the point of view that’s expressed

  • Who created the document
  • What was the creator’s goal
  • How does the document reflect the views and opinions of the time period
  • How does multiple documents support or contradict one another?

Use these guiding questions to stop and think more deeply about each document:

  • How did Jackie Robinson help to improve the lives of other Americans not only during his time but for people today?
  • What does this document tell me about the American racial segregation during this time period of Jackie’s life
  • Take a position on these questions presented with the documents and defend it with evidence from the documents and your understanding of contemporary America

(1) When Robinson is Called Out

According to the writer of this Editorial, what is it that Jackie Robinson exemplifies that needs to be followed? Why might this be important

An editorial written in the Jackson Advocate

(2) Jackie Meets Detroit Mayor Candidates

How do you think having this photo taken of them with Jackie Robinson could either help or hurt the candidates for mayor at the time?

Photos taken with a caption in the Detroit Tribune

(3) Jackie getting Interviewed by Reporters

In this transcript of this interview with Jackie Robinson, he compares players from the South all of a sudden having to be on his side to his him having to root for his college rival, University of Southern California. Think about an example of this that would relate to your life? What would be difficult or awkward about this?

A Transcript of an interview done with Jackie Robinson posted by The Library of Congress

(4)“The Jackie Robinson Story”

How does this article show the great progress and change of perception from 1947, when Jackie first broke the color barrier, to June of 1950, when this article was published?

A Story about “The Jackie Robinson Story” a new film, from The Evening Star

Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate

(5) Letter to the President

According to Jackie, What is his main concern/desire he wants from the president and what specific events/happenings cause this concern?

MAY 13, 1958 

The Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that States must integrate their public schools, but few began to do so voluntarily. Although Arkansas had begun desegregation elsewhere in its school system, in September 1957 Governor Orval Faubus, hoping to gain political favor, used National Guardsmen to block entry of nine black students who were supposed to attend Little Rock’s Central High School that school term. Faubus alleged that without such action, violence would have erupted.When President Eisenhower reluctantly sent in Federal troops to protect the students and ensure their right to be at Central High, Jackie Robinson, now a coffee and food vending executive, was reasonably pleased although he believed that decisive Presidential action on civil rights was overdue. Over the years, he had grown increasingly impatient with what he regarded as Eisenhower’s failure to face up to the hard facts: Not only did racism exist, so did white efforts to physically intimidate Southern blacks who dared to challenge segregation. He therefore called upon the Chief Executive to guarantee the Federal Government’s support of black attempts to exercise rights already granted under the Constitution but in practice denied them because of white resistance. 
Letter Jackie Wrote to President Dwight D. Eisenhower in May of 1958

(6) Jackie Robinson Quotes

Choose one of the quotes from Jackie Robinson and argue why you think it might best represent who he was, what he desired, or his message, based on what you have learned so far about him.

Different Quotes by Jackie Robinson

Media Credits

(1) When Robinson is called out / Chronicling America – Library of Congress

(2) Jackie Meets Detroit Mayor Candidates / Chronicling America – Library of Congress

(3) Jackie Getting Interviewed by Reporters / Library of Congress

(4) “The Jackie Robinson Story” / Chronicling America – Library of Congress

(5) Letter to the President / National Archives

(6) Jackie Robinson Quotes / National Archives

Photo of Jackie Robinson (Historical Context) / Pixabay

A colored girl at a water fountain (Historian’s Process) / Wikipedia

Symbolism in the Lion King Review

I feel like I did end up achieving pretty much the goals that I was striving for the most part. I was trying to allow the students the space for them to be able to see and understand how symbolism appears in text, video, and other sorts of medium. My goal was to be able to give students a practical model/example of how they can discover, work, and find symbolism in a variety of objects, ideas, actions, or such that show up in their media of choice. I also wanted it to be a more engaging and accessible way for students to be able to find, engage, and work with symbolism, which as will be seen in my what went well section, was something that was accomplished. I guess what didn’t go exactly to plan was having students work specifically with the Lion King. Not everyone had seen the Lion King or knew enough about it in order to properly and most deeply engage in the practice. Overall, I felt like it was successful in reaching the levels of achievement the lesson/activity was meant to.

There are quite a bit of different elements and things that went well as part of the carrying out of this lesson plan. The first thing that went well was that the model, the specific 3-sentence structure I had for the students to be able to follow to bring out the examples of symbolism was effective and as instruction it gave a great example for students to build on. A second aspect that was good was that there was a video and it gave the fact that there was an illustration and the fact that it indirectly gave an example of what was being done in class. On that similar topic, it was received well that I had the class talk about what symbolism is as a class before showing the video that told the students exactly what symbolism is. The final good thing that stood out was that the way the lesson was set up, planned, and carried out allowed taking a topic that was out of reach, especially with middle school, and made it more approachable and applicable to the student’s life and applying it to previous life.

Something that I could work on and improve on myself and which I learned was to be clearer and more specific on the instructions, especially due to the fact that this lesson wasn’t given as much time as properly needed to completely needed. I could have helped by saying the 3 sentences where they copied the same 3 sentences above, filling in the symbolism term, didn’t have to be the exact same structure. Instead, I could have highlighted how it could have varied slightly in word structure or arrangement of words to better fit the term and it’s part of speech, tense, or etc. What would be important to point out is that the main structure and idea of the sentence would need to be the same.

In terms of my timing, delivery, and workflow, I feel like it all went pretty smoothly and there didn’t exist any major hiccups or of that sort. I was able to get right into the lesson and start the discussion about symbolism. There was a little pause and disruption when I had to exit out of the powerpoint to play the video. Next time, as from experience this is the second time that this has happened, I should open the browser before I start and have the video up and ready to play. Other than that, I was able to transition right into the example and into student’s work time while walking around to help them. The sharing of their examples went way better because I had the email address more clearly shown.

Symbolism in the Lion King

This lesson is one in a continued unit that focuses on the finding and use of literary devices in both texts and other forms of media such as videos, music, and etc. This is meant for an 8th grade humanities classroom. The students will have just finished watching the Lion King in class.

In this lesson, we will be studying and examining the meaning of symbolism and how it shows up and is found in text and different forms of media. In particular, we will be working with the animated film version of Lion King. When the students watched the film, they will have been observing and accumulated an awareness of different objects, events, or ideas that may have a deeper meaning/symbolism. Students will be introduced to a short clip expanding on what symbolism is. The students will then take this understanding and context from the film to point out an example of symbol from the film.

To start off the lesson, the students will be introduced out loud to a definition of symbolism. Their will be a time for any starting questions or such about symbolism. Next, the teacher will play a short video clip that expands on what symbolism is. After the video, the teacher will ask once again if student’s have any clarifying questions or concerns. From this point, the teacher will ask the students to get out their laptops and open up to create a new google slides/PowerPoint/Keynote. The students will then choose an object, idea, activity, or event from the film that they believe is a symbol and find pictures of the object, idea, activity, or event and put a picture on the slide. For the slide/picture, the student will write three sentences that describe how that idea, activity, or event is represented in the story. Once these initial 3 sentences are written, the student will go back and insert a word in which they believe summarizes the symbol of that object, idea, activity, or even. The student will test it by plugging that word into the same three sentences for the photo/slide that they created. If that word makes sense and fits in the sentences, then most likely they have discovered what that object, idea, activity, or event may represent in the film the Lion King. There is also a PowerPoint attached with these instructions and an example.


Consumerism in the 1920’s – Reflection

In some aspects I feel like I completed parts of my goals in this lesson on consumerism in the 1920’s. Going into the lesson, I wanted the students to be able to recognize how the common features and such of advertising that we still see and notice today started in the 1920’s after the first war. I wanted students to recognize how specific elements that commercials had that allowed us to remember them, such as the targeted audience, aspect of focus, and the overall message, still carry over today. I especially wanted them to also notice how the advertising game changed with the inclusion of both TV and radio. I felt like the students in the lesson were able to see that as they were able to connect to commercials from their childhoods that appealed because of these same characteristics. 

         I also feel like the goals weren’t met at the same time because I wasn’t able to be as focused on the specific aspects of consumerism and the specific examples of the characteristics. I also needed to be more organized and give proper preparation time and instructions to be able to get to everything in the lesson and to fully touch the important parts. This is the aspects that didn’t go as well. 

         What I learned that I could do is to be more specific and detailed on what I want to touch in order to better get to the main takeaway and message that I want to convey based on my lesson title. So, in the case of consumerism, my commercial example and what I asked the students to produce didn’t touch directly on specifically consumerism in the 1920’s. As a result, I can pick two or three themes from the era that you wanted to teach about later, maybe the role of women, the culture of youth, how the automobile was transforming America, and show, use, and teach/explain using these examples. I can also have given students the task of bringing in their videos of their commercials so we can be able to get the most out of that aspect of the lesson and to be able to get to the rest of the lesson to ensure its best effect. 

         In terms of my timing, it was kind of off and on, with parts being more on track than other parts. I feel like during the intro discussion of their commercials and their experiences, I was able to foster good discussion and the flow and timing was on track. The timing got a little off when I asked them to send in their own videos to my email, when I wasn’t prepared to do it and it showed when I scrambled to get my email and organize the gathering, opening, and playing of the videos. I feel like the timing and flow and delivery was awkward during the sharing and discussion of the videos. The timing and flow returned during showing the video on the 1920’s and having the discussion afterwards. Overall, even with the timing off, the workflow seemed pretty decent as student’s were on track and we got to the next thing. It just wasn’t great because we didn’t get to the last aspect of the lesson plan.