Jackie Robinson's civil rights leadership took place both on and off the playing field. As the first black Major League Baseball player in the twentieth century, he forged the path for African Americans and Latinos who followed in his wake. His baseball career facilitated the desegregation of other professional sports as well. The prominence of minorities in all major sports today would not have been possible without Jackie Robinson's pioneering efforts.
Jackie Robinson displayed extraordinary leadership off the field. As an active player, he gave speeches and raised money in support of various civil rights groups, but his activism continued long after his baseball career had ended. His tireless efforts in the business world also helped secure equal opportunities for African Americans and others.
Jackie Robinson's influence both on and off the playing field cannot be understated and will never be matched. Few, if any, athletes today possess his combination of star talent and social awareness. His untimely death in 1972 left a void that has yet to be filled.