On January 31, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Baseball Hall of Famer and civil rights activist Jackie Robinson. Best known for breaking the color barrier in professional baseball in 1947, Robinson quietly resisted inequality throughout his life both on and off the field. His abilities and his conscience saw him letter in four sports in college, get discharged from the army for refusing to move to the back of a bus, play for the Brooklyn Dodgers and start a bank to level the economic playing field for people of color. He was a force for change that pushed our country toward a brighter future.
Try one of these biographies to get to know Jackie Robinson and see why his legacy is still felt today.
Part history book, part photo album, Promises to Keep interweaves family stories with baseball history and the civil rights movement. We get a close-up portrait of who author Sharon Robinson's dad was as a person, as well as a thorough look at the events of his life.
42 Is Not Just A Number focuses on the almost insurmountable racism and aggression that Jackie Robinson faced and how he dealt with it while retaining his dignity. We see not only his quiet strength, but his anger and frustrations. Older readers will appreciate the humanity of this hero.
If you'd rather read a good story with just the flavor of the facts, try one of these middle-grade novels.
In one of Dan Gutman's Baseball Card Adventures, Joe Stoshack travels back in time to meet Robinson in Jackie & Me, and learns a little about Robinson's part in the history of his favorite game. Focused more on the action on the field than off, this book will appeal more to younger readers.
Robinson is constantly reminded by her grandfather to act more like her namesake, Jackie Robinson, who was able to remain calm in spite of bad things that happened to him, but changes at home make Robbie frustrated and angry all the time. It may take more than the love of baseball to see her through these challenges. With the support of an unlikely group of classmates, and some generous family friends, Robbie finds a way to face life as it comes, Just Like Jackie.
Finally, hear how real people remember Robinson. Hank Aaron and Robert Sengstacke speak about the legend and the sportswriters who discovered him on our Remembering Jackie playlist in The HistoryMakers database.