Jackie Robinson: One of Our Own, Part I

The Brooklyn Dodger who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 became an early symbol of equality and integration.

Robinson’s roots are planted firmly in the south Georgia soil. Sixty years ago, Jackie Robinson made history as the first black American to play for a major league affiliated team.

Jackie Robinson has become a part of the American history curriculum. What you might not have known is that Jackie Robinson is one of our own. Eighty seven years ago Jackie Robinson was born into a humble cottage near Cairo, Georgia: a quaint southern city just a few miles north of Havana, Florida and a few miles west of Thomasville, Georgia.

All that remains of the house is this chimney that stood just feet from where Jack Roosevelt Robinson came into the world.

Dr. Linda Walden, Robinson's second cousin, says, “Jackie’s parents were sharecroppers, Mallie McRiff Robinson and Jerry Robinson. Jackie’s father deserted the family, and having done so put all of the weight on his mother, and they left and went to Pasadena, California, where her brother lived.”

When Mallie Robinson and her five children headed west leaving their plantation life behind, a great deal of family remained in Cairo. Over the years, the relatives remained in touch.

Hattie Jones, Robinson's first cousin, says, “We, yeah, he was spoken about, I learned about it. I have always heard about him all my life.”

Walden adds, “Her nurturing, her encouragement, her faith in God.”

Jackie’s character continued to develop while attending college at UCLA. There he became the first athlete to letter in four varsity sports. He then served in the military up until 1944. All the while, blacks played baseball amongst each other.