Tag: Jackie Robinson

NFL Protests: League Came Together for a Powerful Day

Denver Broncos kneel in protest during the national anthem before their game against the Buffalo Bills. (Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig, USA TODAY Sports)

by  via usatoday.com

Empty sidelines in Nashville and Chicago. Jacksonville owner Shad Khan standing arm in arm with his players. The Miami Dolphins wearing “I’m With Kap” T-shirts during warm-ups. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis eloquently explaining his change of heart about players protesting during the national anthem. The NFL had one of its finest moments before the games even began Sunday, coming together from every corner – players, coaches, owners and league office – in forceful rebuke of the latest torrent of hate from President Donald Trump.

Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground. “Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire,” Davis said in a statement. “… Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers.“That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”

Be it Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King or Magic Johnson, sports has long been the prism through which we see society. And fondly as we regard those trailblazers now, that wasn’t always the case. Changing hearts and minds, getting people to shed their stereotypes and ignorance, took sacrifice, anger and, yes, even protest.

In that way, the NFL’s league-wide show of unity was merely the latest in a long history of sports and activism being intertwined. It wasn’t even particularly radical when measured against the outspokenness and activism by current NBA players and coaches.

But what made Sunday so stunning was how out of character it was, a seismic shift for a league that has been loath to allow any kind of individuality or personal expression. The NFL barely tolerates touchdown celebrations, let alone a call to acknowledge the pervasive racism that marginalizes a good portion of our country.

Maybe that’s what Trump was counting on with his remarks Friday — and again Saturday and Sunday — that were as ignorant as they were inflammatory, yet more racist dog whistles for his base. Perhaps he figured the league that has effectively blackballed Colin Kaepernick would let his thinly veiled bigotry pass in uncomfortable silence.

But the NFL showed Sunday that Trump has badly overplayed his hand.

“We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country,” the Seattle Seahawks said in a statement announcing that the team would stay in the locker room during the national anthem.

Even in a league where blinders might as well be part of the uniform, it was not lost on anyone that Trump found a way to defend Nazi protesters yet called Kaepernick and anyone else who protested during the national anthem a “son of a (expletive).” Ditto for his history of calling out and criticizing people of color while letting egregious behavior by whites go unchallenged.

The demonstrations by Kaepernick and the other players who have joined in are not about the national anthem or the military or the flag. They never have been. They are about the racism that continues to be pervasive in our society, manifesting itself in police brutality, economic inequality and disparity in education and opportunity.

No one is naïve enough to assume the NFL will now be the standard bearer in this latest fight for civil rights; moving as all the demonstrations were, it did not go unnoticed that the theme was “unity” rather than inequality, and that very few white players took a knee.

To read full article, go to: NFL protests: League came together for a powerful day

The Jackie Robinson Foundation Breaks Ground on the Jackie Robinson Museum in NY

(L-R) Hannah Storm, Ayo Robinson, Sonya Pankey, Founder of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Rachel Robinson, Meta Robinson, and Vice-Chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation Sharon Robinson attend the Jackie Robinson Museum Groundbreaking at the Jackie Robinson Foundation on April 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for Jackie Robinson Foundation)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

The Jackie Robinson Museum is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for donors on April 27, 2017.  The 18,500-square foot space will honor the late sports legend Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and played an active, pioneering role in the modern civil rights movement.  “Jack lived his life with such great purpose,” said Rachel Robinson, JRF Founder and wife of Jackie Robinson. “I hope that visitors to the Museum will not only learn about his journey and experience his energy, but that they will be inspired to view each day as a chance to make a difference.”

The Jackie Robinson Museum will expand the Foundation’s mission to educate and expose current and future generations of Americans to a man and an era that were pivotal in forming the more inclusive society that we are today. Exciting, interactive exhibitions, educational outreach efforts, and dynamic programing to illuminate the life and character of one of the most storied athletes of all time are all on the Museum’s agenda. “We are proud to realize Rachel Robinson’s dream of establishing a fixed tribute to her husband’s rich legacy,” said Della Britton Baeza, JRF’s President & CEO.  “Jackie Robinson’s contributions to our country propelled us through challenging social times and continue to encourage us to practice empathy and brotherhood toward others. The Jackie Robinson Museum will satisfy sports fans who will learn more about Jackie Robinson’s great accomplishments as an athlete and visitors of all walks of life who want to be inspired by a true humanitarian.”

Located in the heart of downtown Manhattan, just blocks north of the 9/11 Memorial, the Foundation has retained Gensler as Design Architect in collaboration with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Exhibit Designer, to develop the Jackie Robinson Museum.

JRF has secured lead gifts from a diverse group of partners including:  Nike, Inc., Phil Knight, the Yawkey Foundation, the City of New York, New York Mets, Citi, Strada Education Network, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball, the Tull Family Foundation, New York Yankees, and Stephen Ross. Half way to its $42 million fundraising goal, which is inclusive of a Museum operating endowment, the Foundation plans to open the Museum’s doors in the spring of 2019.   

JRF Welcomes Donations: visit www.jackierobinsonmuseum.org to support the Museum’s fundraising efforts.

About the Jackie Robinson Foundation

Established in 1973 to perpetuate Jackie Robinson’s memory, the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF), a national, public, non-profit organization, administers one of the nation’s premier education and leadership development programs for minority college students. In addition to generous financial assistance, JRF offers a comprehensive set of support services that includes mentoring, job placement, career guidance, leadership training and practical life skills. JRF’s celebrated four-year program yields a consistent, 98% college graduation rate. JRF has provided over $70 million in grants and direct program support to 1,500 students who have attended over 225 colleges and universities.

Story of Negro Leagues Baseball Star Josh Gibson Premieres This April in Opera “The Summer King”

In this photo made on Friday, March 17, 2017, Sean Gibson, great grandson of Josh Gibson and Executive Director of the Josh Gibson Foundation, right, holds a replica Pittsburgh Crawfords jersey with Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn as they pose next to a poster at the Pittsburgh Opera House in Pittsburgh. (Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

article by Beth J. Harpaz, AP via washingtonpost.com

An opera about Negro Leagues baseball star Josh Gibson, whose power hitting rivaled Babe Ruth’s, will have its world premiere in Pittsburgh this April. “The Summer King,” presented by Pittsburgh Opera, premieres April 29. Gibson’s story also figured in “Fences,” the movie starring Denzel Washington that was originally a play by Pittsburgh native August Wilson.

Baseball and opera “don’t usually inhabit the same universe,” said Christopher Hahn, Pittsburgh Opera’s general director. But opera is the perfect medium for telling Gibson’s story because opera allows people “to sing about emotions and aspirations and fears.”

Gibson was one of the first three Negro Leagues players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which lists his career batting average as .350. He was twice named Negro National League batting champ and led the league in home runs three times. He played for two Pittsburgh teams, the Homestead Grays and the Crawfords.

Gibson died at 35, probably from a brain aneurysm, a few months before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball in 1947. Gibson’s story is “the story that came before Jackie Robinson,” says Daniel Sonenberg, composer of “The Summer King.” ‘’Josh’s career made the advent of Jackie Robinson possible. It was Josh who played at this high level that caught the attention of white owners. It was Josh who demonstrated it was competitive suicide not to integrate.”

But baseball’s integration led to the Negro Leagues’ shutdown, ending careers for dozens of black athletes who were not among the few chosen for white teams. Both “Fences” and “The Summer King” honor “a whole generation of wonderful players whose livelihoods and social structures got up-ended,” Hahn said.

“Most people know the story of Josh Gibson as a baseball player, a home run hitter compared to Babe Ruth with outstanding statistics, in the Hall of Fame,” Sean Gibson said. “But behind the uniform was a great man who lived through tragedy outside of dealing with racism and playing baseball: His wife died giving birth to their twins.”

The opera also portrays Gibson’s career playing abroad in Cuba, Mexico and elsewhere. “Over there they didn’t have to deal with racism,” said Sean Gibson. “You’re going over to Latin countries, your skin color is the same color as theirs.” Nearly all 14 principal roles in “The Summer King” are played by African-Americans, a rarity in operas (”Porgy and Bess” notwithstanding). Renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves plays Gibson’s lover. Bass-baritone Alfred Walker, who plays Gibson, told the New Pittsburgh Courier that playing “someone that looks like me” is “an amazing opportunity.”

A ballfield named for Gibson is located in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood, not far from the August Wilson House, the late playwright’s childhood home. The August Wilson House hosts a block party April 29, starting at noon, just a few hours before the opera premiere, to mark Wilson’s birthday.

The Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit plans to stage “The Summer King” in March 2018.

To read full article, go to: Opera tells story of Negro Leagues baseball star Josh Gibson – The Washington Post

Chadwick Boseman Lands Lead Role in Marvel’s “Black Panther”

Chadwick Boseman Horizontal - H 2013
Chadwick Boseman (Getty Images)

Chadwick Boseman will be Marvel Studios’ first solo lead of color, with the news that he will take the title role in the newly announced Black Panther movie, one of several new titles revealed at this morning’s Marvel Studios event at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles.

Boseman will play T’Challa, the head of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, in the movie, which is scheduled to be released Nov. 3, 2017. The Black Panther — created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — was a long-serving member of the Avengers who also enjoyed multiple critically acclaimed solo runs throughout his 48-year history.

Boseman is best known for his roles in 42 and Get On Up, playing Jackie Robinson and James Brown, respectively. He’s repped by Greene & Associates Talent Agency, Management 360 and Ziffren Brittenham.

While no other information about the project was released at the event, the studio revealed show concept art for the character, shared on Twitter by Marvel’s Ryan Penagos.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 10.16.36 PM

article by Graeme McMillan via hollywoodreporter.com

President Barack Obama Honors Negro League Players at White House

NegroLeaguePlayers
Former baseball players in the Negro League, from left to right, Pedro Sierra, Minnie Minoso, Ron Teasley, and the last living owner of a Negro League team, Minnie Forbes, of the Detroit Stars, far right, talk outside the West Wing of the White House following their meeting with President Barack Obama, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama on Monday honored former baseball players in the Negro League, a haven for African-American players who for decades were prevented from competing with white players in professional baseball.  The White House said Obama invited about a dozen players to the White House to mark their contributions to American history, civil rights and athletics. The players competed for teams like the Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Indianapolis Clowns and Boston Blues.

The Negro League thrived in the early part of the 20th century. Its decline started after Jackie Robinson in 1947 became the first African-American to play Major League Baseball in modern times, clearing the way for other black players to compete in the major leagues. The league disbanded a few years later.

Copyright The Associated Press via krmg.com

Jackie Robinson’s Old Glove Sells for $373,000 at Auction

Infielder Jackie Robinson, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, shown, March 2, 1954, Vero Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Kerlin)
Infielder Jackie Robinson, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, shown, March 2, 1954, Vero Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Kerlin)

Steiner executive vice president Brett Schissler said Monday the same person sold both items, which also were bought by one person. Schissler says the buyer and seller didn’t want to be identified. The prices include commissions. In addition, Steiner Sports says that Mickey Mantle’s signed 1960 contract with the New York Yankees was sold by his family for $39,930. Danny and David Mantle, sons of the player, are donating the money to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.

article via thegrio.com

As Jackie Robinson Was Making History, Wendell Smith Wrote It

Wendell Smith
Wendell Smith

Sportswriter Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times recently wrote a thoughtful and necessary essay about sportswriter Wendell Smith, who covered Jackie Robinson’s ascendancy into major league baseball for the Pittsburgh Courier and “finally gets his due” in the recently released motion picture “42.”  Here is an excerpt and a link to the entire article:

Baseball’s greatest story will be rewritten again Monday as the sport celebrates the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the major leagues’ color barrier.Yet the man who wrote the story will be forgotten.

In every game, players from every team will wear 42, the number on the back of Robinson’s jersey when he debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

Yet nobody will sit in the stands with a manual typewriter atop their knees in memory of the man who, even as he wrote about integration on the field, was barred from the press box because he was black.

Nobody will honor the man who endured the same prejudice as Robinson as he fought that prejudice with his words. Nobody will remember the man whose hidden fight became an inspiration for Robinson’s public battle.

Everyone will remember the headline, but few will remember the byline — Wendell Smith.

The humble, bespectacled journalist was Robinson’s chronicler, his confidant, and sometimes even his conscience. As sports editor and columnist for the African American-owned Pittsburgh Courier, Smith accompanied Robinson throughout his first major league season, creating his image, reporting his words and crusading for his rights.

As Robinson grew more popular, Smith became more invisible, until he eventually became Robinson’s ghost writer in the literal sense, the memory of him turning ethereal and nearly vanishing altogether.

“Everywhere we went, Wendell Smith was there,” said Don Newcombe, former Dodgers pitcher, who was Robinson’s longtime teammate, friend and fellow pioneer. “He was instrumental in so many things that happened, he should not be forgotten.”

Read the rest of Plaschke’s story here.

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article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

MLB Forms Diversity Committee, Focus on Increasing Number of Black Players

Atlanta Braves' Justin Upton hits a walkoff home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 6-5. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Atlanta Braves’ Justin Upton hits a walkoff home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 6-5. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has created a task force that will study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among black players.  Commissioner Bud Selig announced the committee Wednesday.  This week, baseball will celebrate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. A new movie titled “42″ focuses on the Hall of Famer.

The 18-member committee includes representatives from club ownership, the players’ union, minor league and college baseball, the MLB scouting bureau and other areas. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and former major league manager Jerry Manuel are among the members.  MLB says about 8.5 percent of players on this year’s opening day rosters identified themselves as African-American or black. That’s around half the number from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.

AfricanAmericansBasebal_655x368_v2

“As a social institution, Major League Baseball has an enormous social responsibility to provide equal opportunities for all people, both on and off the field,” Selig said in a statement.

Continue reading “MLB Forms Diversity Committee, Focus on Increasing Number of Black Players”

“42” Smacks $27.3-million Home Run in Debut, Wins Weekend Box Office

"42" smacks box-office home run

Chadwick Boseman stars as Jackie Robinson in “42,” which did better than expected at the box office this weekend.(Warner Bros.)
Jackie Robinson beat the odds again this weekend, as a film about the player who broke baseball’s color barrier outperformed at the box office.  42,” which tells the story of the first African American Major League Baseball player, debuted as the highest-grossing movie with a robust $27.3 million this weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Warner Bros. That figure far exceeded prerelease industry polling, which suggested the film would start off with about $21 million.

Those who saw “42” this weekend loved it, assigning the film a rare perfect average grade of A+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That’s great news for Warner Bros. Nearly every film that has earned an A+, including such movies as “The Avengers” and “The Help,”  has gone on to become a commercial hit.  “42” attracted both genders in nearly equal measure and played well with all races in suburbs and in cities. The picture drew an older crowd, however, with 59% of the audience over 35. Dan Fellman, the studio’s president of domestic distribution, said that indicated the resonance of Robinson’s tale with those familiar with his story.

“Most adults remember what he accomplished and the purpose of what he did for not only baseball but the betterment of mankind,” Fellman said. “I think the story is proving to be a lot greater than many people had anticipated.”  “42,” which stars Hollywood newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Robinson alongside Harrison Ford, was financed by Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures for $40 million. The movie is set in 1947, when Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, illuminating the country’s racial tensions. 

article by Amy Kaufman via latimes.com

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GBN Film Review: Jackie Robinson Biopic “42” Hits a Humanistic Home Run

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Chadwick Boseman portrays the legendary Jackie Robinson in “42.”

“If he were white, we would call that spirit.”

Whether or not Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers President and General Manager, ever said this about Jackie Robinson in response to those who thought he might be trouble for major league baseball because of being court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of an Army bus, doesn’t matter.  What does is that Rickey’s (gamely played by Harrison Ford) matter-of-fact delivery of that line sums up not only the heart of the movie, but the heart of the double standard commonly applied to systemically oppressed people who refuse to comply with their own dehumanization.

Although based on actual events as Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball, spirit is ultimately what the biopic “42” is about – fighting for unequivocal truths to come to light, and to stir the best within us all regardless of race, color or religion by leveling the playing field and by just straight up playing ball.

 “Lincoln Heights” actor Chadwick Boseman, in his first major film role, does a commendable job bringing sports legend and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson to life.  Boseman has an athletic grace and physicality that conveys the intelligence and scrappiness of Robinson’s game, but his performance shines most when he silently conveys Robinson’s struggle to hold himself in check when he is verbally and physically assaulted on and off the field.  At one point in the film, Robinson’s baseball prowess is remarked on as “superhuman,” but after seeing all he endured off the field in “42,” his ability to stay calm and focussed in the midst of a sea change in American sports and culture was arguably his most compelling power.

Robinson & Smith
Boseman and Andre Howard as Pittsburgh Courier reporter Wendell Smith

Writer/director Brian Helgeland wisely starts the film with a black reporter chronicling Robinson’s achievements (later revealed to be Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, a well-known black newspaper of that era; Smith was assigned to cover Robinson’s journey), setting the stage by introducing and narrating America’s still racially tense post-war years.  By framing this film about a black hero through the eyes and words of a black reporter shows Helgeland, who wrote the acclaimed “L.A. Confidential” and “Mystic River,” understands how deeply this movie is about a watershed moment in African-American history as much as it is about one extraordinary man.  It needs to be told as “our story,” so by making Smith (played with quiet strength by Andre Howard) a guide, witness, admirer, and beneficiary of Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments, the core audience of “42” is able to hold the same positions while watching the story unfold.

Continue reading “GBN Film Review: Jackie Robinson Biopic “42” Hits a Humanistic Home Run”