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How Jackie Robinson Changed Baseball Commonlit Answers

  • 7th Grade
  • Lexile: 1050

Source: How Jackie Robinson Changed Baseball by Jessica McBirney

Assessment Answers

Which of the following best describes a central idea within the text?Jackie Robinson stood up against racism in many different ways in his life, and inspired others when he became the first African-American Major League Baseball player in modern times.
Which of the following sections from the text provides the best evidence of Jackie Robinson’s impact on the sport of baseball?“Robinson also made important racial breakthroughs in the sports world. The first baseball player to break the color barrier in 60 years, he paved the way for many future African-American and minority athletes.” (Paragraph 15)
How does paragraph 8 contribute to the development of ideas in the text?It reveals Jackie Robinson’s willingness to enter a
sport in which he knew he would suffer
What does the word “adverse” mean, as used in paragraph 13?harmful

Summarize, in 5-6 sentences, the different ways that Jackie Robinson faced racial discrimation and the impact that his attitude toward racism has had on others. Use quotes from the text to support your answer.

Jackie Robinson encountered racial discrimination from multiple fronts throughout his life and career, yet his responses to these challenges left a lasting impact on baseball and society. Early in his life, Robinson was arrested for disputing the police detention of a Black friend, demonstrating his willingness to confront racial oppression head-on (“Even early in his life, Robinson confronted racism head on”).

During his military service, he faced discrimination when ordered to sit at the back of a non-segregated bus, a command he refused, leading to his arrest and a subsequent trial, where an all-white jury acquitted him, showcasing the systemic racism present even in the armed forces.

Upon entering Major League Baseball, Robinson endured direct racial hostility, with some team members and opponents threatening not to play or engaging in verbal and physical abuse.

However, his perseverance and commitment not to retaliate against such discrimination were pivotal (“Could he be ‘a Negro player with enough guts not to fight back?'”).

This attitude not only helped to disarm his detractors but also united his team and garnered widespread public and press support, significantly influencing the sport’s integration (“African-American fans flooded to Dodgers games, and even the general public and the press had a mostly positive view of the team’s newest addition”).

Robinson’s legacy extends beyond his athletic achievements, as he paved the way for future African-American and minority athletes, breaking the color barrier and contributing to the Civil Rights Movement (“Robinson also made important racial breakthroughs in the sports world”).

His courage and dignity in facing racism inspired others and demonstrated the power of resilience and non-violent protest in effecting social change.

Discussion Answers

In your opinion, why did Branch Rickey ask Jackie Robinson to not fight back against discrimination? Why was this considered having “guts”? How would this idea be treated today?

Branch Rickey asked Jackie Robinson not to fight back against discrimination for several strategic and social reasons. Rickey understood that integrating Major League Baseball was not just about breaking a color barrier; it was also about changing hearts and minds in a deeply segregated America.

By asking Robinson to refrain from retaliating against racial slurs, physical attacks, and other forms of discrimination, Rickey aimed to demonstrate Robinson’s moral fortitude and character, thereby challenging the stereotypes and prejudices that fueled segregation.

This restraint was intended to make Robinson’s presence in the league more palatable to those resistant to integration, reducing backlash against the decision and facilitating a smoother transition towards inclusivity in baseball.

Describing this restraint as having “guts” acknowledges the immense personal strength and courage required to face hatred and bigotry without responding in kind. It takes a profound level of resilience and inner strength to absorb such negativity without letting it provoke a retaliatory response, especially when those attacks are personal and degrading.

This approach was revolutionary because it flipped the narrative of strength from one of physical retaliation to one of emotional and psychological fortitude.

In today’s context, the idea of not fighting back against discrimination might be met with mixed reactions. On one hand, nonviolent resistance and peaceful protest are still highly regarded strategies for enacting social change, with historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. serving as exemplars of this approach.

On the other hand, contemporary movements often emphasize assertive self-expression and activism to combat racism and discrimination, advocating for direct confrontation of systemic injustices through protests, social media, and other platforms.

The emphasis today is more on vocal and active engagement against injustices, reflecting a broader societal shift towards recognizing and addressing systemic inequalities more directly and openly.

However, the principle behind Rickey’s request to Robinson—to demonstrate integrity, dignity, and strength in the face of adversity—remains a powerful testament to the effectiveness of grace under pressure in challenging and ultimately changing societal norms.

In the context of the article, what makes a hero? How did Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments in baseball make him a hero to many?

In the context of the article, a hero is portrayed as someone who exhibits courage, integrity, and resilience in the face of adversity, and who inspires change through their actions and character.

Jackie Robinson exemplifies this definition of a hero through his groundbreaking role in integrating Major League Baseball and his approach to the racial discrimination he faced.

Robinson’s accomplishments in baseball made him a hero to many for several reasons:

  1. Breaking Barriers: By becoming the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era, Robinson broke a significant color barrier. His presence on the field challenged the prevailing norms of segregation and opened the door for future generations of athletes of all races.
  2. Enduring Racism with Dignity: Robinson faced intense racism, from threats and insults to physical violence, both on and off the field. His commitment to non-retaliation, as agreed with Branch Rickey, demonstrated an extraordinary level of self-control and dignity. This approach not only highlighted the unjust nature of the racism he faced but also won him respect from fans, fellow players, and the broader public.
  3. Excellence in Performance: Beyond just integrating baseball, Robinson excelled on the field. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, played in six World Series, and was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 through 1954. His success proved that talent knows no racial bounds, challenging stereotypes about African-American athletes.
  4. Inspiring Social Change: Robinson’s achievements transcended sports. He became a symbol of progress in the Civil Rights Movement, showing that African-Americans could succeed in high-profile roles previously denied to them. His career encouraged a reevaluation of racial prejudices and contributed to the gradual desegregation of other areas of American society.
  5. Lasting Legacy: Robinson’s legacy goes beyond his lifetime achievements, with his number (42) retired across all Major League Baseball teams. He remains a symbol of breaking barriers and fighting for equality, inspiring not just athletes but all individuals fighting for social justice.

Through his actions, character, and the way he handled adversities, Jackie Robinson embodied the qualities of a hero, making a profound impact not only in sports but also in the broader struggle for civil rights and social justice.

In the context of the article, how has America changed over time? How has America changed in its treatment and acceptance of people of color? In what capacity did Jackie Robinson represent the beginning of this change? In what ways have things remained the same, if at all?

The article on Jackie Robinson provides a snapshot of America’s evolving landscape regarding race relations, particularly in the realm of sports but also more broadly in societal attitudes and structures. Through Robinson’s story, we can observe several dimensions of change over time, as well as areas where progress has been slower.

How America Has Changed

  • Increased Diversity in Sports: Robinson’s entry into Major League Baseball marked the beginning of the end for racial segregation in American professional sports. Today, athletes of color thrive in numerous sports, holding prominent positions and enjoying widespread acclaim, which reflects a significant shift from the era when segregation was the norm.
  • Civil Rights Advancements: Robinson’s career coincided with the nascent stages of the Civil Rights Movement, and his challenges and triumphs foreshadowed the broader societal changes that would follow. The subsequent decades saw significant legislative and social progress, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which aimed to dismantle institutionalized racial discrimination and segregation.
  • Cultural Shifts: Robinson’s acceptance and success helped challenge stereotypes and change perceptions about African-Americans. This shift has been reflected in various fields, including politics, academia, entertainment, and business, where people of color have since achieved unprecedented levels of visibility and influence.

Robinson symbolized the breaking of the color barrier not just in baseball but in American society at large.

His courage in the face of relentless racism, his dignity in responding to provocation, and his undeniable talent challenged deeply ingrained prejudices and demonstrated the injustice of segregation.

He became a living testament to the possibility and benefit of integration, setting a precedent for other sports and areas of society to follow.

Despite these strides, challenges persist. Racial disparities and systemic inequalities are still evident in many areas, including education, criminal justice, health care, and economic opportunity.

The persistence of racism, both overt and systemic, indicates that while progress has been made, the journey toward full equality and acceptance is ongoing.

Instances of racial prejudice and discrimination in sports, such as racial slurs from fans or disparities in leadership roles, remind us that the issues Robinson faced have not been entirely eradicated.

These continuing challenges underscore the importance of ongoing efforts to address racial inequalities and foster a more inclusive society.

Jackie Robinson’s legacy is a complex tapestry of progress and ongoing struggle. He represents a pivotal moment in America’s journey toward racial equality, embodying both the significant changes that have occurred since his time and the challenges that continue to persist.

His story serves as both a milestone of progress and a reminder of the work that remains in the pursuit of justice and equity.

In the context of the article, how does a person overcome adversity? How did Jackie Robinson overcome the discrimination he experienced (in life and in baseball) despite being told not to fight back? How did Robinson continue to challenge discrimination during this time?

In the context of the article, overcoming adversity involves a combination of personal resilience, moral fortitude, and strategic action.

Jackie Robinson’s journey illustrates how an individual can confront and overcome discrimination through patience, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence, both in behavior and performance.

How Jackie Robinson Overcame Discrimination

  1. Personal Resilience: Robinson showed incredible mental and emotional strength. Faced with vile racism, threats, and physical aggression, he maintained his composure and dignity, adhering to his agreement with Branch Rickey not to retaliate. This resilience was not just about enduring abuse but about proving through action that African-Americans deserved equal opportunities and respect.
  2. Excellence in Performance: Robinson excelled on the baseball field, winning Rookie of the Year in 1947 and contributing significantly to his team’s success over the years. His excellence served as a rebuttal to the stereotypes and prejudices that fueled racial discrimination, demonstrating that talent and skill know no racial bounds.
  3. Moral Fortitude and Integrity: Robinson’s decision to not fight back against racial slurs and physical attacks was a strategic choice that required immense moral strength. This approach helped to change the narrative around African-American athletes and showed that they could rise above prejudice and hostility.
  4. Public and Community Engagement: Off the field, Robinson used his platform to advocate for civil rights and social change, engaging in public speaking, writing, and community activities.
    After retiring from baseball, he continued to be an outspoken advocate for equality and justice, leveraging his status as a sports icon to influence broader societal attitudes.

Continuing to Challenge Discrimination

Even within the constraints of not fighting back physically or verbally on the field, Robinson found ways to challenge discrimination:

  • Living Example of Integration’s Success: By simply excelling in his role, Robinson challenged the prevailing norms of segregation and demonstrated the viability and benefits of racial integration in sports and beyond.
  • Activism and Advocacy: Robinson’s later years were marked by active participation in the Civil Rights Movement. He was involved in various causes, supporting efforts to increase African-American visibility and rights in all sectors of society.
  • Inspiring Others: Robinson’s legacy inspired countless individuals to pursue their dreams despite facing discrimination and adversity. He showed that it was possible to overcome systemic barriers through talent, hard work, and a commitment to one’s principles.

Jackie Robinson’s method of overcoming adversity by facing it with grace, excellence, and a forward-thinking attitude has made him an enduring symbol of the fight against racial injustice.

His life demonstrates that overcoming adversity often requires more than just personal success; it involves paving the way for others and contributing to societal progress.

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