Jackie Robinson Day honors memory of human rights legend

Black and white photograph of Jackie Robinson after his playing days. He looks distinguished in a business suit, which means that the photo may very well have been taken during one of his civil rights speaking engagements. He holds his arm around a young African-American boy.

Jack Roosevelt Robinson, an American hero on and off the baseball diamond. (Photo: Wikipedia)

April 15 is celebrated as Jackie Robinson Day across Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson, who played his first Major League game on April 15, 1947, was the first African-American player to officially break the color line in Major League Baseball. The Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman faced racial slurs, violent treatment on the field and death threats off the field, and through it all he displayed the kind of courage and determination necessary not only to make it in baseball, but to change the face of society through his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He fought for rights both civil (eliminating “separate but equal”) and economic (rights to such things as fair pay and consumer credit like payday loans).

Jackie Robinson Day – MLB remembers

All Major League players, coaches and umpires who draw payday cash on Jackie Robinson Day will wear uniforms that sport Jackie Robinson’s number, 42. Major League Baseball retired the number 42 across both leagues in 1997 and has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day since 2004. In addition, clubs will use commemorative home plate and lineup cards that bear the Jackie Robinson Day logo. It is but a small tribute to the enduring impact of Robinson’s personality and inner strength. The celebration will culminate in an appearance by the Robinson family at Yankee Stadium prior to the Yankees’ night game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Jackie’s wife Rachel Robinson, daughter Sharon Robinson and grandson Jesse Simms – all of whom are involved in the Jackie Robinson Foundation – will participate in ceremonies.

Rachel Robinson remembers the greatness of her man

“When Jack stepped onto Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947, he set a new course for American history both in the game and in society,” she said in a statement to various media outlets on the first Jackie Robinson Day. “I am grateful that Major League Baseball continues to honor his enduring impact, along with the values he lived by, both on and off the baseball field.”

Jack Roosevelt Robinson (Jan. 31, 1919 – Oct. 24, 1972) died at age 53 because of complications of diabetes and heart disease, but his legacy lives on so long as people still realize how important it is to remember the dark corners of American history. We must learn from those who stand for what is right so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

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