38 of the Best Jackie Robinson Quotes

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Jackie Robinson, fully named Jack Roosevelt Robinson, was born in 1919 in Cairo, Georgia. He was raised in poverty with his four siblings by his single mother. Robinson attended John Muir High School and after graduating he attended Pasadena Junior College. While in Pasadena Junior College, Robinson was starting to get recognized for his athletic skills while he competed in track, basketball, baseball and football. He then attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) but ultimately dropped out in his third year to go back home and help his mother with the family. In 1942, Jackie Robinson was enlisted in the army and was a second lieutenant in 1943. Robinson was arrested for not following the order to sit in the back of the segregated military bus, when the charges on him were dropped he received an honorable discharge. His arrest is what inspired Robinson to have future commitments to civil rights and activism.

While playing baseball in the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, Jackie recieved the attention on Branch Rickey, manager and president of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Ricky wanted to start segregation the team. To make sure Robinson could handle the racism that he would receive, Ricky spent a meeting insulting Robinson to see the reaction. He thought that if Robinson were to react to the racism he would receive, that that would be a major setback for segregated teams. Branch Rickey proved to be right about the amount of racism Jackie would receive as fans threw glass bottles, the opposing teams purposely aimed the baseballs at Jackie’s head, some of his own teammates protested about having to play with him, and spiking Robinson with their shoes purposely as they slid into bases. St. Louis Cardinals players had threatened to strike if Robinson was to play on the field, but Ford Frick the commissioner put a stop to that as he said if anybody were to strike, that player would be suspended from baseball. At one point the racism from fans became intolerable to Pee Wee Reese, the Dodger team captain, so he left his position and placed his arm around Robinson leading the two to become life-long friends.

Jackie Robinson Quotes

  1. “Many people resented my impatience and honesty, but I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.” – Jackie Robinson
  2. “The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.” – Jackie Robinson
  3. “I had to fight hard against loneliness, abuse, and the knowledge that any mistakes I made would be magnified because I was the only black man out there… I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.” – Jackie Robinson
  4. “Many people resented my impatience and honesty, but I never cared about acceptance as much as I cared about respect.” – Jackie Robinson
  5. “I felt unhappy and trapped. If I left baseball, where could I go, what could I do to earn enough money to help my mother and marry Rachel? The solution to my problem was only days away in the hands of a tough, shrewd, courageous man called Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.” – Jackie Robinson
  6. “No matter how much or how little I knew technically, I was able to get the best out of people I worked with.” – Jackie Robinson
  7. “Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.” – Jackie Robinson
  8. “I don’t think it matters what I believe, only what I do.” – Jackie Robinson
  9. “Blacks have had to learn to protect themselves by being cynical but not cynical enough to slam the door on potential opportunities. We go through life walking a tightrope to prevent too much disillusionment.” – Jackie Robinson
  10. “Plenty of times I wanted to haul off when somebody insulted me for the color of my skin, but I had to hold to myself. I knew I was kind of an experiment. The whole thing was bigger than me.” – Jackie Robinson
  11. “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.” – Jackie Robinson
  12. “If I had to choose between baseball’s Hall of Fame and first class citizenship for all of my people. I would say first-class citizenship.” – Jackie Robinson
  13. “I speak to you only as an American who happens to be an American Negro and one who is proud of that heritage. We ask for nothing special. We ask only that we be permitted to compete on an even basis, and if we are not worthy, then the competition shall, per se, eliminate us.” – Jackie Robinson
  14. “I think if we go back and check our record, the Negro has proven beyond a doubt that we have been more than patient in seeking our rights as American citizens.” – Jackie Robinson
  15. “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” – Jackie Robinson
  16. “I do not believe that every person, in every walk of life, can succeed in spite of any handicap. That would be perfection. But I do believe that what I was able to attain came to be because we put behind us (no matter how slowly) the dogmas of the past: to discover the truth of today; and perhaps the greatness of tomorrow.” – Jackie Robinson
  17. “When I am playing baseball, I give it all that I have on the ball field. When the ball game is over, I certainly don’t take it home. My little girl who is sitting out there wouldn’t know the difference between a third strike and a foul ball. We don’t talk about baseball at home.” – Jackie Robinson
  18. “I think if we go back and check our record, the Negro has proven beyond a doubt that we have been more than patient in seeking our rights as American citizens.” – Jackie Robinson
  19. “There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.” – Jackie Robinson
  20. “If I had been white with the things I did, they never would have allowed me to get out of baseball.” – Jackie Robinson
  21. “How you played in yesterday’s game is all that counts.” – Jackie Robinson
  22. “Relationships may change throughout the gift of time, memories stay the same forever in my mind.” – Jackie Robinson
  23. “I cannot possibly believe that I have it made while so many black brothers and sisters are hungry, inadequately housed, insufficiently clothed, denied their dignity as they live in slums or barely exist on welfare.” – Jackie Robinson
  24. “I don’t like needing anyone for anything.” – Jackie Robinson
  25. “The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.” – Jackie Robinson
  26. “This ain’t fun. But you watch me, I’ll get it done.” – Jackie Robinson
  27. “Pop flies, in a sense, are just a diversion for a second baseman. Grounders are his stock trade.” – Jackie Robinson
  28. “Above anything else, I hate to lose.” – Jackie Robinson
  29. “Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.” – Jackie Robinson
  30. “I know that I am a black man in a white world… I know that I never had it made.” – Jackie Robinson
  31. “After two years at UCLA, I decided to leave. I was convinced that no amount of education would help a black man get a job.” – Jackie Robinson
  32. “I’m grateful for all the breaks and honors and opportunities I’ve had, but I always believe I won’t have it made until the humblest black kid in the most remote backwoods of America has it made.” – Jackie Robinson
  33. “I don’t think that I or any other Negro, as an American citizen, should have to ask for anything that is rightfully his. We are demanding that we just be given the things that are rightfully ours and that we’re not looking for anything else.” – Jackie Robinson
  34. “Next time I go to a movie and see a picture of a little ordinary girl become a great star… I’ll believe it. And whenever I hear my wife read fairy tales to my little boy, I’ll listen. I know now that dreams do come true.” – Jackie Robinson
  35. “My problem was my inability to spend much time at home. I thought my family was secure, so I went running around everyplace else. I guess I had more of an effect on other people’s kids than I did my own.” – Jackie Robinson
  36. “It would make everything I worked for meaningless if baseball is integrated but political parties were segregated.” – Jackie Robinson
  37. “I guess you’d call me an independent since I’ve never identified myself with one party or another in politics. I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves, no matter what the party label.” – Jackie Robinson
  38. “It kills me to lose. If I’m a troublemaker, and I don’t think that my temper makes me one, then it’s because I can’t stand losing. That’s the way I am about winning, all I ever wanted to do was finish first.” – Jackie Robinson

Video – Trailer for Jackie Robinson Movie

This is a great movie. If you read this far give it a watch.

Related: Quotes to Celebrate Black History Month , Marcus Garvey Quotes and Kamala Harris Quotes.

Summary

After leading the Dodgers to one World Series victory and six league championships, Jackie Robinson retired from baseball in 1957. He then became a spokesperson for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and even made appearances with Martin Luther King Jr. In 1972, Robinson was placed in the Baseball Hall of Fame, making him the first African American in the Baseball Hall of Fame. A decade later, he wrote an autobiography titled, ‘I Never Had It Made’, and then in 1984 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour for an American citizen to obtain.

If you love baseball you are for sure to have known who Jackie Robinson was, if you were unsure of who he was but have heard the name, these quotes will help you have a better understanding of why Jackie Robinson remains an important person. He wasn’t just a greatly skilled baseball player, he was also an inspiration to millions of people and continues to be honoured for his career and activism. Use some of these quotes of his to inspire someone, in a school project, or to post on social media to honor him yourself.

Image Credit: “Jackie Robinson, baseball player” by US Department of State is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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