Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson

Enjoy this collection of resources surrounding Ken Burns' 2016 documentary Jackie Robinson. Featuring clips from the documentary and a selection of lesson plans, students can engage with the life story of Jackie Robinson and the broader Civil Rights movement. 

  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Jackie Speaks Out

    See the moment Jackie Robinson began challenging other ballplayers and umpires. Reporters began to come to Jackie directly, as he spoke out more, and played a season better than ever before.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Lesson | Living in Jim Crow America

    In this lesson, students analyze how experiences of discrimination and prejudice in Jackie Robinson’s early life shaped his character and values. Moreover, students consider how discrimination and prejudice affect people’s lives and develop strategies through which the resulting attitudes and actions can be addressed. 

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Pasadena

    Learn how the early days of Jackie Robinson's life shaped his outlook and character.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Lesson | Integration or Separation?

    In this lesson, students examine how frustration with the lack of progress in terms of equity, social justice, and access to opportunity for African-Americans bolstered the civil rights movement of the 1960s. They evaluate how this disenfranchisement played a role in forming more militant factions during this period. Next, students assess the dilemma Jackie Robinson faced as a younger generation vocalized new concerns and became actively involved in the movement. Last, students compare and contrast the state of race relations in the 1960s versus today and think critically about what can be done to improve existing conditions

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Jackie Robinson Fades

    Learn how the public perception of Jackie Robinson, militancy, black masculinity, and the Civil Rights Movement transformed between the 1950s-1960s.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Lesson | A Journey Back to Separate but Equal Conditions

    Students examine why Jackie Robinson pushed for further integration after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. They then explore the Robinson family’s experience with overt racism, and analyze ways some implicit attitudes of prejudice inform people’s behavior and treatment of others.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Lesson | Taking the Measure of a Man

    Students explore the highs and lows of Jackie Robinson’s first year as a Brooklyn Dodger and how his race played a role in the formation of different expectations people had of him. They will examine an instance of the harassment Robinson experienced on the field, analyze how he dealt with it, and explore ways aggression, prejudice, and bullying can be addressed. 

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | The Negro Leagues

    Learn how Jackie Robinson entered the Negro Leagues, playing for the Kansas City Monarchs. In this clip, Buck O’Neil recounts when the team bus stopped at a filling station in Oklahoma, and the station attendant stated that the restroom was "for whites only.” Robinson told the attendant “No restroom, no gas.” Fearing the loss of a large sale of gasoline, the attendant agreed to let them use it.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Ice Cream

    In this clip from Jackie Robinson, Alton Waldon of Brooklyn shares a childhood memory of when he and his school friends met Jackie Robinson, who treated the children to ice cream that day, and whom they revered as "a real hero who looked like" them.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Honeymoon

    Rachel Robinson recalls her wedding to Jackie in 1946, the couple's trip to Spring Training in lieu of a honeymoon, and the discrimination and segregation they faced along the journey.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Social Justice

    The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlaws racial segregation in schools, but it does not mean total change at once. The reaction in the South is immediate and angry. As the push for social justice accelerated across the country, Robinson tried to do his part, but old customs remained entrenched both in the North and South.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Jackie Robinson and Malcolm X

    Rachel Robinson discusses Jackie's stance against violence and the rhetoric surrounding it, and his perspective on Malcolm X. Jackie denounced Malcolm X as "a man without a plan" and accused him of being "militant on Harlem street corners, where militancy is not dangerous."

    Grades: 6-12
  • Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson | Clip | Jackie Enters the Majors

    April 15, 1947, opening day at Ebbets Field: playing first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers was number 42, Jackie Robinson. The Dodgers won, and the black press declared Jackie’s arrival as a landmark event. The white press did not acknowledge Robinson's entry into the Majors.

    Grades: 6-12