CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today honored Jackie Robinson and the remarkable impact the legendary baseball player and civil rights icon had on American culture. Today marks the 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut at Ebbets Field, breaking the color barrier in the major leagues. The Governor today released the following statement:
“Jackie Robinson served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II and as an icon for equal rights throughout his life.
“He proved that working hard, perseverance and standing up for what you believe in are what count in life, and we must honor his legacy.
“Jackie believed that ‘life is not a spectator sport,’ and he lived his life with that in mind. He broke the color barrier in the major leagues, became the first black MVP and took his team to the World Series. At the same time, he fought for black athletes and Americans of all colors and creeds to be treated equally. This is why his number was retired by the MLB and why he received two of our nation’s highest honors – the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Jackie Robinson is a true American hero.”
Jackie Robinson was born in 1919 in Cairo, Ga., to a family of sharecroppers. In 1942, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, becoming an officer, but his career changed in 1944 when he refused to sit in the back of a military bus. All charges were later dropped and he received an honorary discharge. Later, he began a career in baseball and eventually broke the color barrier in baseball’s major leagues when he started playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He was a key part to the Brooklyn Dodgers World Series Championship in 1955, and he was the first black MVP in 1949. In addition, Robinson fought for his fellow black athletes in the major leagues and for civil rights for all before the U.S. Congress and the American people. Robinson passed away in 1972.
In 1997 Major League Baseball (MLB) retired his number, 42. In 2004, the MLB began celebrating “Jackie Robinson Day,” wherein all players wear the number to honor his commitment to his sport and his nation. Robinson has now been the subject of major feature films and numerous biographies, with streets, schools and stadiums named in his honor throughout the country.