Introduction to Roberto Clemente

Teaching Activity

One strategy teachers can use to introduce Roberto Clemente to students is to complete a K-W-L chart. As a group, students write out and/or discuss what they know (K), what questions they want answered (W), and what they have learned from reading the text (L).


  1. Engage students in a discussion of what they already know about Roberto Clemente. The short bio below may be used to prime students if they have no familiarity with Clemente.
  2. List what students know in the K column of the chart. (Often times this will be what they think they know.)
  3. Note disagreements and questions in the W column as questions they want to have answered. Ask students what else they want to learn and record responses (as questions) in the W column.
  4. Distribute the short readings to students individually or in small groups. There are twelve readings for middle and high school students. Make enough copies so that every student has one reading or there are sets of selected readings for small groups. The readings are excerpted from the Roberto Clemente PBS film transcript and two books by Dave Zirin: A People’s History of Sports in the United States and Welcome to the Terrordome.
  5. Direct students to read their respective text and jot down information they learn as well as new questions that arise.
  6. Engage students in a discussion of what they have learned from the readings. Summarize the discussion in the L column of the chart.
Source: Kent State University
Source: Kent State University


Roberto Clemente Bio

In eighteen seasons with Major League Baseball, Roberto Clemente garnered two World Series titles, four batting titles, twelve Gold Glove awards, and 3,000 hits. He was the first Latino player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the only player besides Lou Gehrig for whom the mandatory waiting period was waived. Yet, Major League Baseball’s first Latino superstar was defined just as much, if not more so, by his life away from baseball.

Proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and a stalwart advocate for economic and social justice, he spoke openly against racism, Jim Crow, and oppression. His personal heroes were Martin Luther King, Jr. and Puerto Rican leader Luis Muñoz Marín, and Clemente became a hero to African Americans and Latinos in the United States (especially Puerto Rico) and abroad.
“It is ironic that the profession in which he achieved ‘legendry’ [status] knew him the least,” reads a line from an obituary written by the Black Panthers. “Roberto Clemente was simply a man, a man who strove to achieve his dream of peace and justice for oppressed people throughout the world.”