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Defining Moments

Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball

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A landmark event of the African-American civil rights movement took place on April 15, 1947. This event was not a court ruling, or a protest march, or a speech. It was a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Braves. When the Dodgers trotted out of the dugout at Ebbets Field and assumed their defensive positions to start the game, the rookie first baseman wearing number 42—Jackie Robinson—became the first black player in Major League Baseball.

Defining Moments: Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball provides a comprehensive account of Robinson’s life and career, with a detailed and authoritative overview of the events surrounding the shattering of Major League Baseball’s longstanding color barrier. It also discusses Robinson’s life after baseball—especially his influential position in the African-American civil rights movement—and explores his enduring legacy as a racial pioneer in the game of baseball and in American society.

The volume is organized into three distinct sections—Narrative Overview, Biographies, and Primary Sources—which offer a one-stop resource for student research.

  • The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of what led up to the selection of Jackie Robinson to break baseball’s color barrier, the events and issues during his career and after, and his legacy in American society
  • The Biographies section presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with these events
  • The Primary Sources section collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era, including official documents, first-hand accounts, memoirs, editorials, and other important works

Other notable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a detailed chronology featuring page references to relevant sections of the narrative; an annotated listing of selected sources for further study; an extensive general bibliography; and a subject index.

Standard Features

  • Library binding, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • 240 pages
  • 30-40 photographs and other illustrations
  • Narrative Overview section: Provides a detailed, factual account of the “defining moment”
  • Biographies section: Presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the event
  • Primary Sources section: Collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era
  • Research Topics: Proposes a list of topics suitable for conducting historical research and writing reports, a valuable starting point for student research
  • Source Attribution: Contains references for primary sources and other quoted material that guide users to other historical research resources
  • Glossary of Important People, Places, and Terms: Gives brief definitions for the many terms used in the book
  • Chronology: Highlights the related events in chronological order, along with “see” references that direct the reader to pages in the narrative with additional information
  • Sources for Further Study: Provides annotated citations for selected sources that are most useful to students
  • Bibliography: Lists books, periodicals, web sites, and videos consulted in preparing the volume
  • Subject Index: Includes people, places, organizations, events, and other topics

Research Topics

Each volume in the Defining Moments series covers a wide range of topics that students can use as starting points for further research. Potential research topics for Defining Moments: Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball are below:

  • Discuss some of the political, social, and economic factors that led to the segregation of people by race in the United States
  • Compare the typical experience of white players in Major League Baseball to that of black players in the Negro Leagues during the first half of the 20th century
  • Analyze the impact of segregation on the development of black cultural institutions—like black baseball, which became a source of pride and affirmation for many African Americans
  • Explain the key factors that made Jackie Robinson “the right man for the job” of breaking baseball’s color barrier, both on and off the field
  • Discuss Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey’s condition that Robinson could not retaliate, no matter how vicious the verbal or physical assault
  • Consider what would have happened if Robinson had lost his temper and fought back against his tormentors and how public perceptions of Robinson changed when he was finally allowed to speak his mind
  • Explain some of the key factors in Robinson’s background, temperament, and situation that enabled him to persevere and succeed in the face of tremendous obstacle, and consider whether you could have done what Robinson did
  • Assess Jackie Robinson’s role as a pioneer in the African-American civil rights movement and how his experience ending segregation in baseball influence other key events in the fight for racial equality
  • Document the achievements of other African-American athletes who have overcome barriers in sports and society
  • Explore the significance of sports in American society, noting instances in which it has either led the way or lagged behind during periods of social change and upheaval
  • Discuss the legacy of Jackie Robinson and the relevance his experiences and example hold for Americans today


“This work provides a detailed account of the events that occurred leading up to April 15, 1947 when Major League Baseball’s longstanding color barrier was in place and the role that Jackie Robinson played in that monumental occasion. For young people today who did not grow up during the era of segregation in sports, this work may be particularly shocking and disturbing. … [The author succeeds] in her effort to provide an objective and balanced account of a shameful period in American history. … Young students interested in baseball, the history of sports in America, and racial relations in America could benefit from more titles in [this] series.”

—American Reference Books Annual, 2014