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The United States v. Jackie Robinson by…

The United States v. Jackie Robinson

by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

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The illustration in this biography was very artistically stimulating. It was drawn in a way that a child would know this isn't a make-believe story. With the overall patriotic theme, this book could be taught in February to show both African American History as well as America's History. ( )
  JonahWilliams | Feb 13, 2019 |
This biography about Jackie Robinson is focused on his time in the army, and how segregation was a big part of his service experience. Book starts off with Jackie Robinson as a young child, and how racism affected his family and how they dealt with it properly. This biography included like the other biography I read, that Jackie was varsity in 4 different sports at UCLA, and that Jackie dropped out of school to join the army. The main focus about this book was the struggles that Jackie had to encounter in the army, specifically with being separated from the while soldiers. Any African American soldiers had separate areas from the whites, and one day the army decided that there would be no more segregation in the army. One day Jackie Robinson boarded the military bus, and the bus driver yelled at him telling Jackie that he needed to move to the back. Jackie knew that segregation had been banned in the military, so he did not move from his spot because he was not ordered to. The United States of America military took Jackie Robinson to court over the situation, and eventually he ended up winning the court case. Then the biography ended with going on to describe a bit of Jackie Robinson baseball career and the different places he worked after his sports career ended. ( )
  oleger | Jan 28, 2019 |
Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) was the first African-American player in modern major league baseball. His debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 ended approximately 60 years of baseball segregation. But Jackie Robinson's pathbreaking courage and resistance started long before his career in professional baseball.

Robinson, the grandson of a slave and the son of a sharecropper, was not only a baseball player. In high school, he played shortstop and catcher on the baseball team, quarterback on the football team, and guard on the basketball team. He was also a member of the tennis team and the track and field squad, and won awards in the broad jump. In junior college, he played basketball, football, and baseball, and participated in the broad jump. Transferring to nearby University of California at Los Angeles, he became the school's first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track.

How he got to that place is an amazing and inspirational story.

The author begins by providing background on what life was like for African Americans before the Civil Rights Movement and resulting legislation in the 1960’s. As she writes in the Author Note at the conclusion of the book:

These are the kinds of signs that Jackie Robinson and scores of other Americans of color faced every day:


Furthermore, as the only black family on their street, the Robinson family was not welcomed by their neighbors, who petitioned them to move. The author writes:

“But Jack’s mother, Mallie, wouldn’t go. She made it clear to any and all that she was not afraid and that she wouldn’t allow anyone to treat her family badly. Mallie taught her children to stand up for what was right, even when that was difficult to do. Jack learned those lessons well.”

Being a star athlete in college did not protect Jack from racism. The author reports that his opponents on the football field used to go out of their way to hurt him, whether he had the ball or not. She observes:

“Even Jack’s own teammates once used practice as an excuse to tackle him so hard that they severely sprained his knee.”

But he didn’t back down, on or off the field.

When World War II broke out, Robinson was drafted and assigned to a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. He was accepted into officer candidate school (OCS), and earned his second lieutenant's bars on January 28, 1943. [Few black applicants were admitted into OCS but after protests by heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis (then stationed at Fort Riley) and the help of Truman Gibson (then an assistant civilian aide to the Secretary of War), the black applicants were accepted into OCS.]

Upon finishing OCS, Robinson was transferred to Fort Hood, Texas, for further training. There, he joined the 761st "Black Panthers" Tank Battalion. Fort Hood had a bad reputation among blacks, not only because of the segregation on the post but also because of the depth of racism in the neighboring towns.

In May 1944, as the author recounts, the U.S. Army issued an order forbidding segregation on military posts and buses. But compliance in the South was problematic.

On July 6, 1944, Robinson was riding a bus on the base and sitting next to a fellow officer’s light-skinned wife. The driver instructed Robinson to move to a seat farther back.

Robinson argued with the bus driver, and when he got off at his stop, the dispatcher joined in the altercation. A crowd formed and military policemen arrived. The MPs took Robinson to the station. John Vernon, an archivist at the National Archives (Prologue, Spring 2008), tells what happened next:

“…when they arrived at the station to meet with the camp's assistant provost marshal, a white MP ran up to the vehicle and excitedly inquired if they had 'the nigger lieutenant' with them. The utterance of this unexpected and especially offensive racial epithet served to set Robinson off and he threatened 'to break in two' anyone, whatever their rank or status, who employed that word.”

Robinson continued to show "disrespect” and received a court martial.

The author writes:

“Jack knew the court-martial wouldn’t have happened if he had just moved to the back of the bus. He worried how this would affect his reputation and integrity. But Jack also knew he had done the right thing. Jack remembered what his mother taught him.”

Robinson contacted the NAACP and sought publicity from the Negro press. He also wrote to the War Department. The white press picked up on the situation since Robinson was a well-known athlete from his days at UCLA. Higher-ups became worried about this “political dynamite.”

At the court martial trial in August of that year, Robinson’s commanding officer gave a glowing report on his character. His army-appointed defense attorney pointed out inconsistencies in witnesses’ accounts. The attorney also suggested that Robinson’s assertiveness was a legitimate expression of resentment given the racially hostile environment. Ultimately, the court acquitted Robinson of all charges.

While what happened to Robinson was not unique, the outcome of the conflict was unusual. It would more than another decade before blacks were free to sit where they chose on the bus. The author points out:

“Jack had fought for what he knew was right. He had stood up to prejudice and discrimination and exercised his right to sit wherever he wanted on a bus. He was one of the first black Americans to challenge a segregation law in court. And he won.

Jack made history that day.”

The author concludes with a brief summary of Jack’s life after the war, and the fact that he broke the color line in professional baseball.

At the back of the book, there is a timeline of Jack’s life and of civil rights milestones, an Author Note, and a bibliography. In her Note, the author observes that it took courage of Jackie Robinson to “stand up to the racism that was entrenched and rooted deep in American culture…” but what she doesn’t say is that he easily could have been lynched, and he knew that as well.

The illustrator, R. Gregory Christie, has won multiple awards for his work, including the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award and the NAACP’s Image award. The pictures in this book are some of the most realistic I have seen him create. But not totally. He still employs his trademark disproportionate compositions and elongated figures in his vivid gouache paintings. As he has stated in an interview, his art is meant to be “a challenge for the viewer to break away from the established fundamental belief that all children’s books must be realistic or cute.”

Evaluation: Many Americans know that Jackie Robinson was the first black player in major league baseball, but not as many know that his courageous resistance started long before that, or that Rosa Parks wasn’t the first to refuse to move to the back of the bus. This inspirational story helps redress that omission. ( )
  nbmars | Jun 23, 2018 |
This is a lesser-known story about Jackie Robinson, detailing his US Army court-martial for refusing to move to the back of a military bus. The incident adds depth and clarity to his later fame and reknown as a stolid activist in the fight for African American civil rights, as evidenced by his graceful perseverance in the fight to integrate major league baseball.

http://shelf-employed.blogspot.com ( )
  shelf-employed | May 4, 2018 |
Jackie Robinson was a man with many talents. No matter what talent he was performing whether it was, baseball, track, basketball, or football, he always remembered one message his mother told him. Jack's mother, Mallie, taught her children to stand up for what was right, even when that was difficult to do. (Bardhan-Quallen) During Jack's life segregation was at its prime. He was never allowed to use the same restrooms as white people, swim with white people, or eat with white people. One day, Jack received a scholarship to play four sports at UCLA. Segregation was still on Jack's mind when he dropped out and answered the nation's call in World War II. He dropped out of school because he knew he would not have a career in sports because of his color. Continuing on to 1944, the army made segregation disappear and the black men were surprised. Just because the army gave the order, did not mean everyone agreed with or followed it. Jack was on the bus on a particular day and was still asked to move to the back, by a bus driver who did not follow the commands the army gave of desegregation. The officials made Jack go to court for this uproar. During his trial jack remembered the lesson his mother taught him and stuck with what was right. Thankfully, the court pleaded him not guilty and let him go. Jack then asked to leave the army and joined the minor league baseball association in Kansas City, where he began the career of his dreams. He ended his career as the first colored player to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jack pushed through and broke the color line in professional baseball. Jacki Robinson teaches millions of people to fight for what is right. Segregation should have never been an issue in the world. Thankfully, Robinson played a major role in desegregating parts of the world and I am sure the Major League Baseball Association is extremely thankful for him and his courage as well. ( )
  cbattistella19 | Jan 31, 2018 |
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Tells the true story of Jackie Robinson's battle against prejudice while serving in the military during World War II, covering his court-martial for refusing to move to the back of an integrated bus.

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