African American Athletes During The 20th Century Essay

African American Athletes During The 20th Century Essay

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Throughout a large portion of the 20th century, “sports provided the primary form of national entertainment” thereby no matter the circumstance, sports were consistently an important part of people’s lives. Fortunately, African American athletes capitalized on this American pasttime and provided themselves a foundation to achieve integration. Acting as more than just athletes, the African Americans that broke the racial barriers were symbolic of something much greater than themselves or even their race. While these racial pioneers understood this, they worked to exemplify the strides that can be made towards racial justice without direct interference. Therefore, these strategies to achieve success had the ability to later be replicated in the struggle towards racial justice and civil rights throughout the country.
No matter the humiliation and embarrassment that black athletes endured during the early parts of the 20th century, multiple athletes persevered and acted as model citizens. For instance, Jackie Robinson was the first African American to integrate baseball. His success was not instant; rather, when given the opportunity, it was with the understanding that he was to be a “ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back” when put in situations of racial prejudice and racism. He had to transcend the impulse to defend himself and his own pride with hope this would benefit the future. Furthermore, he endured the “racial epithets and flying cleats,” yet he also maintained a level headed demeanor that was similar to that of Jesse Owens ten years prior. Owens experienced great success in Berlin when he led the United States and won 4 gold medals. However, upon his return to the US, “he had to fight to earn a living and support h...


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...han just race to progress racial progress. For instance, Martin Luther King’s “I had a Dream” speech transcended African American desires to personify American ideas from the Constitution, and in return, “25 percent of the people assembled were white” who chose to listen to this man that the African American race had chosen to transcend all racial barriers, just as the athletes had done.
The Integration of sports in the 20th century, with the help of men such as Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, “didn’t make a nation color blind, but at least made it more color friendly.” However, a greater influence was the strategies that were used in the integration of sport that were later adapted for the larger scale and aggressive nature of the Civil Rights Movement. Sports, therefore, can be accredited with the “new atmosphere of innovation and racial equality” that followed.

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African American Athletes During The 20th Century Essay

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