Jackie Robinson is a legendary figure and his name is now synonymous with the desegregation and redefinition of professional sports. Yet, collective knowledge of the historical process that created the American icon has been reduced to an occasional "color commentary."" Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey are forever linked in American history. Rickey understood the psyche of white America. While Branch Rickey's motives are still unclear, history has proven that his "great experiment- to integrate baseball, ultimately had less to do with baseball and more to do with challenging deep seated attitudes about race. The process had to be systematic, and Jackie Robinson not only had to have all the required physical and emotional assets, he had to be willing to make the necessary sacrifices. .
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born the youngest of five children near Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919. Soon afterwards, his father left the family. His mother then moved the family to Pasadena, California to find work as a domestic.
Jackie Robinson excelled in four sports at Pasadena's John Muir Technical High: football, basketball, baseball and track. He went on to Pasadena Junior College, where he set a National Junior College record in the long jump of 25' 6 ½- before accepting an athletic scholarship to UCLA. There, he became the first Bruin athlete to earn varsity letters in four sports. Robinson left UCLA in the spring of 1941 hoping to work to support his mother. Several months later, Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Jackie Robinson enlisted in the U.S. Army. .
Jackie Robinson joined professional baseball in the spring of 1945 with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. He spent his rookie season touring the country with the Monarchs for $400 a month. In August he met with Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who had been scouring the country to find the first black man in the major leagues.