Segments in this Video

Powerful Voice for Black Americans (05:16)


Robinson was a gifted athlete who challenged prejudice with his success. After leaving baseball, he used his fame to fight discrimination. (Credits)

Robinson's Early Childhood (02:43)

Robinson was born in Georgia in 1919. His father Jerry, a tenant farmer, left the family after his wife Mallie encouraged him to demand a share of profits.

The Great Migration (03:35)

Mallie Robinson took her children to California determined to escape Jim Crow. When she purchased her own home, neighbors tried to drive her out with racism and violence.

The Great Depression (03:33)

Mallie struggled to provide for her family. Mack competed in the 1936 Olympics. Jack attended community college and had a reputation as a talented trouble maker.

Jackie Robinson Emerges (02:33)

Robinson garnered media attention playing football at UCLA. By the end of the year he had lettered in four varsity sports.

Future Mrs. Robinson (02:12)

In his senior year at UCLA, Jackie met Rachel Isum. She recalls what she loved about him. He withdrew months before graduation.

Rise of Black Society (02:02)

African Americans remained largely impoverished after emancipation. They created their own businesses, organizations, and athletic leagues.

Negro Leagues (02:03)

Black players were forced out of major league sports in the late 19th century. In the 1930s, black sports writers spoke out against segregation. Wendell Smith was relentless.

Racism in the Military (02:33)

At the onset of WWII, African Americans enlisted in the U.S. Navy only to be relegated to menial tasks. Robinson was drafted into the Army in 1942.

Second Lieutenant Robinson (02:43)

Joe Lewis was sent to Fort Riley and helped Robinson get accepted into Officer Candidate School. He and Rachel became engaged before she joined the Cadet Nurse Corps.

Brooklyn Dodgers (03:16)

Men recall listening to Red Barber announcing games on the radio in the 1940s. Games were played at Ebbets Field in Flatbush.

Branch Rickey (03:16)

Ricky was with the St. Louis Cardinals before being hired by the Dodgers. In 1943, club directors pledged support to Rickey's plan to integrate the team.

Challenging White Authority (04:11)

In 1944, Robinson was arrested and charged with insubordination after refusing to move to the back of a military bus. The 761st Battalion was the first African American unit to see combat.

Kansas City Monarchs (02:31)

Robinson reunited with Rachel after leaving the military. In 1945, he became a shortstop in the Negro Leagues. He continued to stand up to racism.

Boston Red Sox Tryouts (03:32)

Robinson hated playing in the Negro Leagues because of discrimination. He was called by Wendell Smith to audition at Fenway Park. Rickey dispatched his scouts to see Robinson play.

Reinvigorated Campaign to Integrate Baseball (02:36)

African Americans continued to face discrimination after World War II. Men who had fought for freedom in Europe were not allowed to vote or play major league sports in the U.S.

Campaign to Integrate Baseball Intensifies (04:00)

NYC Mayor Fiorello La Guardia formed a committee to investigate discriminatory hiring practices. Sukeforth was sent by Rickey to scout Robinson in 1945.

Public Announcement of Signing (03:06)

Rickey met with several Negro League players to alleviate the pressure on Robinson. He had to go public to beat Mayor Fiorello La Guardia's announcement about integration.

Experiencing Discrimination in the South (02:42)

Robinson and Rachel had a large wedding in 1946. The newlyweds flew to Daytona Beach for spring training. They were bumped from several flights.

Spring Training in Daytona (03:16)

Smith was covering the story for the "Pittsburgh Courier." He convinced Robinson to stay when he wanted to quit.

Us Against the World (02:53)

Ed Charles remembers rooting for Robinson when Montreal played its first exhibition game against the Dodgers. Some teams refused to play against Robinson; fans were segregated.

Racism From Teams and Fans (03:17)

Robinson won a spot placing second base for the Montreal Royals. Rachel recalls how surprised she was to be welcomed to Montreal.

The Little World Series (03:43)

The Montreal Royals had their best season ever. The Robinsons had their first son. The Obamas talk about the importance of finding the right partner.

MacPhail Report (05:19)

White fans did not want to mix with black fans. Rickey would need support to put Robinson on the Dodgers. Racism was prevalent on the team.

Announcer Red Barber (03:22)

The Dodgers signed Robinson. Players planned a strike to protest a black man in major league baseball. Rickey approached Barber for support.

Victory on April 15, 1947 (03:28)

Rachel recalls Robinson's first game when the Dodgers faced the Braves at Ebbets Field. His skin color was not a major news story.

On Field Abuse (04:20)

Phillies Manager Ben Chapman tried to upset Robinson when he was at bat. Rickey was told not to bring Robinson to Philadelphia.

Loneliest Man in Sports (02:01)

Robinson spent little time with his teammates. Rachel went to every home game. Robinson fought racism by playing well.

Beginning of Modern Baseball (03:24)

Buck O'Neil explains how Robinson brought "black baseball" to the major leagues with steals and base running. Fans turned out in record numbers.

Beginning of Change (04:13)

Brooklyn reached first place in the national league. Many Americans could identify with someone who faced discrimination. The Cleveland Indians signed Larry Doby.

Jack and Pee Wee Statue (02:25)

According to myth, Reese once put his arm around Robinson who was being abused by fans.

Personal Stories (04:38)

Fans remember seeing their first major league game at Ebbets Field and watching Jackie Robinson intently.

Rookie of the Year (02:06)

The Dodgers clinched the National League Pennant. Robinson covered "Time" magazine.

Martyred Hero (01:55)

Robinson would eventually risk his popularity to speak out against racism and injustice.

Credits: Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson, Part 1 (02:56)

Credits: Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson, Part 1

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Robinson rises from humble origins to integrate Major League Baseball, performing brilliantly despite the threats and abuse he faces on and off the field and, in the process, challenges the prejudiced notions of what a black man can achieve.

Length: 112 minutes

Item#: BVL129890

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Part 1

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