Learning With: ‘Jackie Robinson Showed Me How to Fight On, Not Fight Back’

Learning With: ‘Jackie Robinson Showed Me How to Fight On, Not Fight Back’

Before reading the article:

What do you know about Jackie Robinson, the legendary baseball player who would have turned 100 years old on Jan. 31?

Look at this slide show on his life.

What did you learn about Robinson from the slide show? What most intrigued you? Did anything surprise you? What further questions do you have about his life or legacy?

Now, read the article, “Jackie Robinson Showed Me How to Fight On, Not Fight Back,” and answer the following questions:

1. How did Robinson inspire Claire Smith, the author, to become a sportswriter?

2. Why does Ms. Smith write, “But I wish I could say, with a straight face, that I actually heard Robinson’s name while still in the womb?” How was Robinson a constant presence in her family’s life growing up?

3. Why did the author’s parents and so many other African-Americans at the time need heroes?

4. Why did watching a movie about Robinson’s life in her third-grade class affect Ms. Smith so deeply, even though it was “pure Hollywood, and never destined to be an epic”?

5. Ms. Smith states that Robinson transformed baseball and the country. Do you agree with her claim? Why does the author say that she is proud to have helped keep his story alive?

6. The article concludes: “It is, at heart, the story of the man who, at his best and bravest, showed us all how to be strong enough not to fight back but rather to fight on and on and on.” What is the difference between fighting back and fighting on? Do you agree with the author that it takes greater strength to fight on?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— What does Jackie Robinson mean to you? What lessons can we learn from him on his 100th birthday?

— Look back at the slide show. Select one photo of Robinson that stands out to you most. Tell us why you chose that image. How does it exemplify the qualities that make Robinson so revered, nearly half a century after his death?

— Why is it important to remember and commemorate people’s lives, even many years after their death? Are there any athletes or people alive today whom you think we will want to remember in 100 years? If yes, who would you want to remember and why?

Further Resources:

To celebrate Robinson’s 100th birthday, The Times published several additional articles:

On Jackie Robinson’s 100th Birthday, 100 Photos of an Icon

For Baseball and the Country, Jackie Robinson Changed the Game

Here’s how The Times covered the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first Major League game in 1997, and his death in 1972:

Baseball Has Yet to Deliver Greatest Tribute to Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson, First Black in Major Leagues, Dies