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Jackie Robinson grew up in poverty on 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena, California. Youngest of five children and reared by a single mother, Robinson excelled in track, football, tennis, basketball and baseball. Educated at John Muir High School in Pasadena, Robinson dominated sports throughout his academic career, from high school to Pasadena Junior College and then UCLA where he became the first athlete to earn varsity letters in four sports: basketball, track, baseball and football. While in school Robinson openly defied racial bigotry, often enduring suspensions and jail time. In 1947, he broke racial barriers as the first African American to play Major League Baseball as the league was segregated since the 1880s. Robinson is a legend and icon in American History as commemorated in numerous awards, halls of fame, the U.S. Postal Service, and monumental spaces across the country including Jackie Robinson Park in his hometown, Pasadena.
In 1964, he helped found, with Harlem businessman Dunbar McLaurin, Freedom National Bank--a black-owned and operated commercial bank.
In 1965, Robinson served as an analyst for ABC's Major League Baseball Game of the Week telecasts, the first black person to do so.
In 1987, both the National and American League Rookie of the Year Awards were renamed the "Jackie Robinson Award."
In December 1956, the NAACP recognized him with the Spingarn Medal.
March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson's widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress.
In 1976, his home in Brooklyn, the Jackie Robinson House, was declared a National Historic Landmark.
A number of facilities at Pasadena City College (successor to PJC) are named in Robinson's honor.
As we continue celebrating Black History Month with daily portraits of iconic Angelenos, check back for more features on other pioneering individuals and make sure to share this history with your friends and family. Click here for more portraits.
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