Before he broke baseball's color line, Jackie Robinson was a four-sport letterman at the University of California at Los Angeles. He was the first athlete in school history to earn varsity letters in four sports -- and some say he was a better basketball player than baseball player. And for a time, he coached and served as athletic director at Samuel Huston College, an all-male historically Black institution in Austin, Texas that would later merge with Tillotson College to form what is now Huston-Tillotson University; the only HBCU in Austin.
When he left UCLA, he first pursued football, integrating the Honolulu Bears, a semi-pro football team in Hawaii. Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and Robinson was drafted into the Army. It was while in the Army and stationed 60 miles north of Austin at Fort Hood, Texas that Robinson was first introduced to the campus of Samuel Huston College. Then, one day in 1944, Robinson refused to sit in the back of the Army bus. He was court martialed, and called out the racist questioning practices. He was dishonorably discharged, and went back to what he knew: athletics.He called his mentor and former pastor, Karl Downs, who was president of Huston College at the time, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Young Students (K3-2nd Grade)
Jackie Robinson is famous for breaking the color line in Major League Baseball, but he had a long history of being the first to achieve something, and standing up for how he believed he should be treated as a Black man in segregated America. What are some ways you stand up for what you believe in?
Middle Students (Grades 3-8)
One of Jackie Robinson's most famous quotes is, A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives." What impact do you think you are having on others now? Is it a good impact, or bad impact? Are you generally kind to others, or mean? Do you stand up for what you believe in, or are you too shy to speak up? Think of three ways you can make a positive impact on others, then write them down as a promise to yourself and those around you.
High School Students (Grades 9-12)
Because sports is a universal language, athletes are often in a position to lead change. From Jackie Robinson to Muhammad Ali to Jim Brown to LeBron James, many athletes have used their platforms to speak up about injustices in the U.S. But some have criticized this, with statements like, "shut up and dribble." Why do you think people feel threatened by athletes speaking up for what's right? What does that say about society?
Most educators get into the field of eduction because they believe tey can make a difference. In what ways are you converting "belief" into action to make a difference for the students you encounter?
About the Series
A Black Child Can was founded to create a better world for students by empowering the adults around them with the knowledge they need to advocate on their behalf. The 2022 blog series builds on this foundation, encouraging educators to participate in the discussion and reflect on the ways they're showing up for their students.