Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 15, 1947, in Brooklyn

"Whatever obstacles I found made me fight all the harder," Jackie Robinson said on the radio program This I Believe in 1952. "But it would have been impossible for me to fight at all, except that I was sustained by the personal and deep-rooted belief that my fight had a chance. It had a chance because it took place in a free society. Not once was I forced to face and fight an immovable object. Not once was the situation so cast-iron rigid that I had no chance at all. Free minds and human hearts were at work all around me; and so there was the probability of improvement. I look at my children now, and know that I must still prepare them to meet obstacles and prejudices.

"But I can tell them, too, that they will never face some of these prejudices because other people have gone before them. And to myself I can say that, because progress is unalterable, many of today's dogmas will have vanished by the time they grow into adults. I can say to my children: There is a chance for you. No guarantee, but a chance."

For the rest of Robinson's essay, click here. To hear him read it on the air, click here.

For more resources on Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball at NPR, click here.

At right is the Pittsburgh Courier's coverage of Robinson's opening day, 60 years ago.
For a description of the game from a sportswriter who covered it, click here.
More on Baseball and the Color Line, 1860-1972, at the Library of Congress, American Memory digital history collection, is here.

Books include I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson, by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett, and Jackie Robinson: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad.
Photo credits: Library of Congress, American Memory (1) and (2)