9 Things You May Not Know About Jackie Robinson

April 14, 2017 - Jackie Robinson

Seventy years ago, Jackie Robinson stepped foot onto Ebbets Field as a Brooklyn Dodger for the first time, breaking the color barrier in baseball and changing the sport forever. Most people know him as the first African-American baseball player in Major League history, but few know that he was also much more: a veteran, a business man and a civil rights activist. He championed the right to first-class citizenship for all Americans.

Celebrate #JackieRobinsonDay by taking time to learn more about his life and and legacy with these 9 facts. 

1. He was named after President Teddy Roosevelt.

President Theodore Roosevelt was the inspiration for Jackie’s middle name: Roosevelt. He died 25 days before Robinson was born.


2. Jackie Robinson was a prolific athlete.

Jackie lettered in football, basketball, track and baseball at UCLA. He was also an accomplished tennis player, and had won the junior boys singles championship in the Pacific Coast Negro Tennis Tournament.



3. He proudly served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

In 1942, Jackie was drafted into the Army and stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. While he was there, he became friends with heavyweight boxer Joe Louis. After refusing to sit in the back of a segregated bus, Robinson was court-martialed, but eventually exonerated.


 4. He played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Jackie Robinson used his celebrity to increase awareness about social injustice. He fundraised for freedom riders and lobbied politicians to support key civil rights initiatives. He was a board member of the NAACP and campaigned all across the country in support of the Movement.


5. No. 42, is the only number to be retired across all of Major League Baseball.

The nation, led by President Bill Clinton, celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic entry into baseball by honoring him during a nationally televised ceremony at Shea Stadium. His number 42 was retired in in perpetuity. Each year on April 15th, baseball players wear the number 42 to honor Jackie’s legacy.


6. Jackie Robinson was a businessman.

Upon retiring from baseball, Jackie Robinson became the first African American Vice President at a major US corporation, Chock Full O’ Nuts. He also founded Freedom National Bank in Harlem in 1964, a time during which there were very few black-owned banks.


7. He has received four national honors posthumously.

Jackie Robinson appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1982. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984 by Ronald Reagan; was featured on both a gold and silver coin produced by the U.S. Mint in 1997; and awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest honor, in 2005.


8. He portrayed himself in the film, ‘The Jackie Robinson story’

The Jackie Robinson Story, directed by Alfred E. Green, was released in 1950. It starred Jackie Robinson as himself and focused on his struggle as the first African American baseball player in the MLB. The film costarred screen legend Ruby Dee.


9. The life and legacy of Jackie Robinson will soon be on display at the Jackie Robinson Museum, set to open in 2019.

The Jackie Robinson Museum will commemorate the life and legacy of a true American hero through an exploration of his commitment to service and to the achievement of “first class citizenship” for all Americans. It will be a prominent stop on existing cultural routes in Lower Manhattan in New York City, just blocks from the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial. More than a permanent tribute to Jackie Robinson’s pioneering legacy and role as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, the museum will serve as a venue for vibrant dialogue on critical social issues and as a destination for innovative educational programming. Click here to donate to the museum.


What are some of your favorite Jackie Robinson facts? Help us celebrate Jackie Robinson Day 2017 by sharing this post and your thoughts with the hashtag #Jackie42.