is one of the most important sports figures of the twentieth century, not because of his athletic skills, which were tremendous, but for his courage and conviction in breaking the so-called "color barrier" in Major League Baseball. He became the first African-American
to play in the Major Leagues during the modern era. While much of the credit for breaking down racial barriers in America rightly goes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
and the other civil rights leaders, Mr. Robinson's success in helping to integrate baseball
had an enormous impact on creating the conditions in which integration could be accepted by the masses. Robinson was a fierce competitor with a reputation for grace under fire. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the cause was his willingness to endure the racial taunts, hatred and bigotry that came his way. By persevering through the worst that was thrown at him, he earned the grudging respect of many and helped paved the way for those that would follow. His courage and dignity helped the United States of America
begin to put its legacy of slavery
and racial prejudice behind it.