To be influential means to cause great change and alter peoples perspectives on certain topics. We believe Jackie Robinson earns the title of America's most influential person.
Jackie Robinson attended the University of UCLA where he won a varsity letter in 4 sports. He ended up not graduating because of economic hardship and was enrolled in WWII. From 1942 to 1944 Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the US army. During Boot Camp at Fort Hood, Texas, Robinson was arrested and court-martialed for refusing to give up his seat and move to the back of a segregated bus. He was ultimately not charged with anything and received an honorable discharge.
After being discharged from the army, Robinson started to play professional baseball, but in the negro league since there were two leagues separated by color. There, he caught they eye of the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey. The Dodgers were a Major League team and a black man being in that league was unheard of. Rickey took Robinson on the team but made him promise to never fight back when confronted with racism. Most of his new teammates rejected him and fans would yell racist things at him. He and his family received death threats and many other threats after joining the Dodgers organization. On April 15, 1947 Robinson played his first game for the Dodgers and became the first African American to play Major League baseball. Through all the hate he received that year he still managed to lead the league in steals, hit 12 home runs and was named rookie of the year.
Robinson's influence started in Montreal, where he played for the Dodger's minor league team. He led his team to the championship series, where the first few games were held in Louisville, where he was harassed and caused him to not play well. To end the series, the last games were in Montreal where home fans supported Robinson, and in return, harassed Louisville players mercilessly. After the final game, the crowd chanted "We want Robinson!" Most of his discrimination started after he joined the Dodgers, he faced many struggles but received support from fans, all his teammates, and even other players in the league. What made him so influential was that the support he had was coming from both blacks and whites. The more white supporters he had, the more white supporters he gained. After he broke the color barrier in 1947, many more segregation laws were abolished, such as the segregation of the army and the "separate but equal" laws, while the civil rights movement was at its peak as well. Jackie Robinson may not have directly influenced these outcomes, but he was the first to break a color barrier and, in doing so, influenced the lives of thousands after him.