Fifty years prior to now this week, Rachel Robinson was making breakfast when she observed her husband Jack working down the hallway in the direction of her. He was merely out of the bathe, and he wasn’t however dressed. “So I ran out of the kitchen to fulfill him on account of I knew one factor was very unsuitable,” Rachel remembers. “And he put his arms spherical me and said, ‘I such as you.’ And he merely sank to the bottom.”
Felled by a coronary coronary heart assault, ravaged by diabetes, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was solely 53 years outdated.
Since his untimely dying, quite a few articles, books, and films have celebrated Robinson’s barrier-breaking debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. However once we’re actually extreme about honoring Robinson, we must always at all times switch previous that one second, however historic it was, and be mindful his lifelong devotion to enhancing the lives of children and youth, significantly impoverished kids of shade.
Higher than 2,500 people, along with civil rights leaders, jazz musicians, and politicians, attended his funeral at Riverside Baptist Church in New York Metropolis. Rachel had requested for two-thirds of the seats to be accessible for frequently individuals. She had moreover insisted on reserving a block of tickets for these closest to Jack’s coronary coronary heart, youthful people. Rachel knew increased than anyone that Jack, as she often known as him, had devoted a number of his transient life to securing the welfare of children and youth.
When he was the star working once more at UCLA, Robinson mentored Black youngsters at Scott Methodist Church in Pasadena. All through his Hall of Fame baseball career, he endorsed kids on the Harlem YMCA and wrote quite a few letters to kids near and far. Plenty of his adoring youthful followers mimicked his pigeon-toed stance throughout the batter’s subject.
After baseball, when he grew to change into a full-fledged civil rights chief, Robinson led youth marches for built-in colleges, cheered on the Kids’s Marketing campaign in Birmingham, and raised bail money for faculty college students who confronted down snarling police canines and withstood super-charged fireside hoses.
On the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Robinson proudly marched collectively along with his son David by his side. A month later, after 4 Black girls had been murdered throughout the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Robinson publicly disavowed nonviolence, saying that if the innocent girls had been his youngsters, he would have exploded in violence.
Perhaps most likely probably the most touching second of Robinson’s love for kids occurred when he donned a white beard and a purple swimsuit to play Santa Claus for teens mired in poverty. He wanted to current them hope, he said.
Nevertheless Robinson moreover acknowledged the bounds of charity, and near the highest of his life, he lobbied in the direction of plans to slash welfare packages that benefitted impoverished youngsters.
Little doubt, Robinson was devoted to kids as a consequence of his private painful childhood in Pasadena.
Racial segregation completely contaminated Pasadena. Jack and his associates of shade had been allowed to swim throughout the public pool solely ultimately per week. Native white leaders often known as it “Worldwide Day,” insinuating that kids of shade weren’t part of the world individuals. When Robinson and his associates dared to swim throughout the shut by reservoir, cops often known as them the n-word and hauled them to jail at gunpoint.
Fueled by his earlier, Robinson on no account stopped combating for youthful people.
Merely two months sooner than he died, he launched that his new agency, the Jackie Robinson Constructing Firm, had plans to assemble an enormous condominium superior for low- to moderate-income residents of Brooklyn.
This, ultimately, was his longtime dream, to assemble neighborhoods the place youngsters at-risk would actually really feel safe and accepted, the place they’d not have to face the ache and struggling that he had endured as a Black boy in a white world.
Robinson died sooner than the enterprise was completed.
As a result of the black hearse carrying his physique traveled to Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, it slowly drove earlier tons of of children lining the streets near the event web site for the model new condominium superior. They’d come to pay their respects to their fallen hero. Plenty of them held their fingers over their hearts.
As we communicate, our children are normally not however safe. They’re political pawns throughout the “family values” debate amongst Republicans and Democrats. Every occasions ignore the heartbreaking indisputable fact that the suicide price amongst Black youths alone, whose lives are wrecked by racism and poverty, is at an all-time extreme.
If we’re extreme regarding the significance of Jack Robinson in U.S. historic previous, we must always at all times be mindful his fervent dedication to youngsters and youth, acknowledge our failure to adjust to in his footsteps, and develop insurance coverage insurance policies and packages that will switch all youngsters from suicidal concepts to sustainable lives marked by racial and monetary justice.
Yohuru Williams and Michael G. Prolonged are the co-authors of “Identify Him Jack: The Story of Jackie Robinson, Black Freedom Fighter” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
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