As described in Breakthrough to the Big League, Robinson’s first important encounter with racial discrimination came while he was in the military. It is at this point that one begins to see the fierce competitiveness that characterized his life. When Robinson found that African Americans were hampered in their ability to become officers in the United States Army, he made inquiries to the U.S. War Department and government officials in an effort to change this discriminatory practice. In addition, the Jim Crow practice of separate seating on buses extended to military personnel on base. After he had refused to give up a seat on a bus in Texas, the driver brought charges against him because he thought that Robinson was in violation of the Jim Crow laws. The driver had mistaken Robinson’s companion for a white woman, however, when in actuality she was a light-skinned African American. This incident resulted in Robinson’s court-martial. Eventually, all charges against Robinson were dropped.
Robinson and Duckett also introduce the reader to the pioneering, visionary Branch Rickey, who is credited with bringing Robinson into the major leagues as the first African-American professional baseball player. Prior to 1947, all African Americans who wanted to play major league baseball played in the Negro Leagues, a loose confederation of teams that traveled all over the country playing one another. In the Negro Leagues, Robinson was one of the more competitive individuals and an outstanding player. Rickey,...
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