HIGHWAY TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS ACT OF 2007--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued -- (Senate - April 15, 2008)
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise today to commemorate a seminal moment in our Nation's history. On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier to Major League Baseball after years of segregation.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was born in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers in Cairo, GA. Cairo, the home of the syrup makers, is a small town in south Georgia located about 35 miles from my hometown of Moultrie.
As you can imagine, Jackie was very talented and did extremely well at sports. At UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports--football, basketball, baseball, and track. He was even named All-American in football.
Jackie enlisted in the U.S. Army in World War II, and following his discharge in 1944, he played the season in the Negro Baseball League and a couple of years in minor league ball.
In 1947, following Jackie's outstanding performance in the minor leagues, Brooklyn Dodgers vice president Branch Rickey decided it was time to integrate Major League Baseball, which had not had an African-American player since 1889. When Jackie first donned a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform, he led the way to the integration of professional athletics in America.
In his first year, he hit 12 home runs and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant. That year, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases and was also selected Rookie of the Year.
Robinson succeeded in putting racial conflict and prejudice aside to show the world what a talented individual he was. His success in the major leagues opened the door for other African-American players.
Jackie Robinson himself became a vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights and other social and political causes. After baseball, Robinson became active in business and continued working as an activist for social change. He was the first African-American inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame and, in 1997, his number was retired by Major League Baseball.
I can recall, as a small boy, being a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. The main reason was because my older brother was a New York Yankees fan and the perennial World Series game was between the Dodgers and the Yankees, so it was a natural rivalry that my brother and I have. I have very vivid memories of watching Jackie Robinson play ball on TV and having great admiration and respect for him as an athlete. It was Jackie Robinson who paved the way for so many great athletes today.
Little did he know, back then in 1947, that he would be followed by the likes of Larry Doby, Willie Mays, and my good friend, Hank Aaron. But what a great inspiration he has been for all of America. Today, I honor the man who stood boldly against those who resisted racial equality, and I acknowledge the profound influence of one man's life on the American culture. Jackie Robinson's life and legacy will be remembered as one of great importance in American history.
I will yield the floor.
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