Color Barrier - How America Learned to Dream There are many things in the United States that receive front page headlines and are covered in the

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How America Learned to Dream There are many things in the United States that receive front page headlines and are covered in the news, but none receive the attention and coverage that sports do. A controversial topic that made the headlines in 1896 was the Plessy vs. Ferguson case which stated that it was ok to keep white’s and black’s separate, as long as they were treated equally. In agreement with racism and the principle of separate but equal, sports adopted this same attitude when it came to the restriction and segregation of athletes; keeping black athletes on a separate playing field than professional white athletes. However, the playing fields of America were integrated years before the Supreme Court reversed its decision in 1954. A look at U.S. history shows that sports have set the tone for America to begin integration off the field and have always been an effective way of unifying people. Many Americans feel comfortable relating sports to every day life. Just like drugs are a bad thing in American society, steroids are illegal for professional athletes. Comparisons like this can be made both on and off the field and this was the case for the color barrier in baseball. The issue of racial segregation in professional baseball was an unwritten rule. There has never been an official ban on black players within the structure known as organized baseball (Moffi 1). Segregation was so ingrained and often unconsciously accepted by most Americans that an official ban of black major leaguers was not necessary. The white owners and managers in baseball made the unanimous decision that it was too much of a hassle to attempt signing a black player, regardless of his ability, which was why they chose to avoid the situation altogether.
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It wasn’t until 1945 that Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Jackie Robinson to a pro baseball contract with a minor league affiliate of the Dodgers. Happy Chandler, the commissioner of baseball at the time, once said, “It was true that black players had never been accepted, but that was because nobody had the courage to sign them” (Moffi 2). Not only did Rickey have the courage to sign a black player, but Robinson himself had enough courage to be the first black man in organized baseball. Rickey often referred to his signing of Robinson as, “The Great Experiment.” He planned to integrate the major leagues and needed a special African American player who met some specific requirements: “I was looking for a man who blended the key ingredients of baseball skill, intelligence and most important, grace under pressure” (Porter 285). Without these characteristics, Rickey never would have been able to
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course ENGL 101 taught by Professor Don'tremember during the Spring '08 term at Washington State University .

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Color Barrier - How America Learned to Dream There are many things in the United States that receive front page headlines and are covered in the

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