Jackie Robinson is not only known as an American civil rights icon, but also one of the greatest baseball players of all time. The grandson of a slave, he became the first Black baseball player in the major leagues. Such an experience naturally lends itself to birthing words of wisdom. 

1. "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being."

There’s an old proverb that goes, “haters are going to hate.” Robinson endured unimaginable ridicule while simply attempting to make a living and excel at his craft. But none of it deterred him. 

2. "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." 


Robinson passed away in 1972 at 53 years old, an early age by anyone’s standards. And even passing at that young age, his life’s work speaks for itself. He changed the face of professional sports, an impact still felt today.

3. "It was a small victory, for I had learned that I was in two wars, one against the foreign enemy, the other against prejudice at home." giphy

Robinson was a lieutenant in the army during World World II when he sat down on a bus in the Jim Crow South with a light-skinned Black woman. The bus driver, thinking the woman was white, demanded the 25-year-old soldier get up and get to the back of the bus. He refused, resulting in his arrest and subsequent court-martial. Even though Robinson faced insurmountable discrimination, he never failed to stand up for himself, his community and the betterment of his country.

4. "I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world"


Colin Kaepernick chose to take a stand against racial injustice in 2016 by kneeling for the national anthem. His advocacy divided not only the NFL, but the nation. Kaepernick's protest drew racist dog whistles surrounding the freedom of speech allowed to athletes. Though his protest still reverberates through professional sports today, Robinson was among the first to initiate such a protest. In his 1972 autobiography, he wrote about his sense of feeling removed from an anthem representing a country where he had been so freely denied rights. There’s truly nothing new under the sun. 

5. "Above anything else, I hate to lose."


A competitor until the very end, Robinson’s words of refusing to surrender strike a chord with anyone willing to fight the good fight.