By Ken Reed

Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, baseball’s civil rights pioneer, turned 100 on July 19th, appropriately enough on the day of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium.

Jackie was a Rookie of the Year, MVP and World Champion for the Brooklyn Dodgers during his Hall of Fame career. He has received immense praise for the courage and determination he showed in breaking baseball’s color barrier and helping to spur the civil rights movement in this country. All well-deserved. However, his wife, Rachel, was a true equal partner on this mission. She has lived an amazing life and accomplished much as a civil rights activist.

Peter Dreier wrote a terrific tribute to Rachel for Common Dreams. Here’s an excerpt:

Much of what Americans know about Rachel Robinson — who turned 100 today, on July 19 — is what they’ve seen in the two major Hollywood films about Jackie. She was portrayed by Ruby Dee in the 1950 film, The Jackie Robinson Story, and by Nicole Beharie in the 2013 hit movie, 42. Both films depict Rachel as Jackie’s supporter, cheerleader, and helpmate, the person who comforted him when he faced abuse, and encouraged him when he was feeling discouraged.

This is all true, but it is an incomplete picture of this remarkable woman. Rachel Robinson was not only Jackie’s partner, she is also a feminist and civil rights crusader. Within and outside the baseball world, Rachel has been, in her own right, a pioneer for social justice, using her celebrity as a platform to fight for a more equal society.

(See “Rachel Robinson, First Lady of Baseball, Turns 100”)

In addition, Tom Verducci wrote the copy for an excellent video tribute to Rachel. It’s well-worth four minutes of your time.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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