Jackie Robinson Breaking the Color Barrier Jackie Robinson was an American athlete, business executive, and civil rights leader. Born in Cairo, Georgia, to a family of sharecroppers, Jack Roosevelt Robinson attended Pasadena Junior College in California and the University of California at Los Angeles. At UCLA he demonstrated exceptional athletic ability and became the first UCLA student-athlete to win varsity letters in four sports; football, basketball, baseball, and track. In 1941 Robinson left college to join the United States Army. After graduating from Officers Candidate School, Robinson became a second lieutenant in what was then a segregated army. Troubled by the mistreatment of black soldiers in his unit, Robinson protested the U.S.
Army’s discriminatory practices. Military police at Fort Hood, Texas, arrested Robinson when he refused the driver’s order to move to the back of a bus. A court-martial acquitted Robinson and he received an honorable discharge in 1944 with the rank of first lieutenant. Robinson began his professional baseball career in 1945 with the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the leading teams of the Negro Leagues. Later that year, Robinson signed with Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Robinson spent the 1946 season playing for the Montreal Royals of the International League, a minor league affiliate of the Dodgers. After one season with the Royals, Robinson was called up to the Brooklyn team in 1947, becoming the first black to play major league baseball in the 20th.