Celebrating Jackie

Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s Major League Debut

Print of Jackie Robinson on Opening Day in 1947 (April 15, 1947) by UnidentifiedSmithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

A Model for the Nation

Jackie Robinson’s entrance into Major League Baseball was monumental. As one of the first and most visible institutions to accept African Americans on relative terms of equality, baseball became viewed as a model for the nation.
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Pinback button of Jackie Robinson with baseball charm and ribbon (1950s) by UnidentifiedSmithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

I'm Rooting for Jackie

Wherever Robinson played, thousands of fans would come to cheer for him, and the Dodgers would go on to set attendance records in almost every National League city. The symbolism of this button reinforces the notion African Americans deserve equal access to the American Dream.

With the support of millions of Americans, Robinson excelled on the field. In 1947 he batted .297, won Rookie of the Year, and helped the Dodgers reach the World Series. Many of Robinson's fans were visibly committed to the notion that African Americans deserved to go as far as their talent could take them and that if given a fair chance, African Americans would be productive, responsible, and exhibit a strong work ethic.

Baseball signed by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers team (1953) by SpaldingSmithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Baseball Signed by Jackie Robinson and the 1953 Dodgers

The 1953 Dodgers won 105 games and the National League pennant before falling to the New York Yankees in the World Series in six games.

Paving the Way Forward

Baseball's integration was the most publicly discussed development in American race relations between the end of World War II and the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Today, it is still difficult to quantify the impact of Robinson’s accomplishments. The idea an African American could be one of the country's most beloved figures held important symbolic meaning. Perhaps, Hall of Famer Henry Aaron best captured the feelings of Black America when he said Robinson “gave us our dreams.”

Photograph of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella with Brooklyn Dodger teammates (1955) by UnidentifiedSmithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

1955 Brooklyn Dodgers

In 1955 the Dodgers won the team's first World Series by defeating the New York Yankees in seven games. The team was led by National League MVP Roy Campanella and Robinson's steal of home in game one of the series remains one of baseball's most iconic moments.

He was a sit-inner before sit-ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides.


— Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
After Robinson’s induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame, 1962

Jackie Robinson Jersey from the 1951 Baseball Season (1951)Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Jackie Robinson Jersey from the 1951 Baseball Season

On loan from an anonymous lender

Explore More: Jackie Robinson's Life and Legacy

Curator of Sports, Damion Thomas, discusses Jackie Robinson's life and legacy and the reasons why Robinson was chosen to integrate Major League Baseball in 1947.

Learn more about the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson from the National Museum of African American History and Culture at our website:

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