Even though it’s been 72 years since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers, his story is as relevant as ever.
On Monday, the anniversary of his 1947 debut with the Dodgers, the public got a sneak peek at some of the items that will be housed in a new museum dedicated to his legacy, slated to open in lower Manhattan at the end of the year.
A Brooklyn Dodgers 1955 World Series bat, a 1949 baseball signed by the team and a satin blue Dodgers jacket that Robinson wore in the 1950s were all displayed in the lobby of 75 Varick St. The Manhattan building is home to the Jackie Robinson Foundation and is also the site of the future museum.
Despite his talents and athletic prowess, Robinson and his family were the victims of racial taunts and harassment when he joined the team.
“When you think about what Jackie Robinson lived through, what his family lived through, we are still grappling with a lot of those issues today,” said Ivo Philbert, vice president of external relations for the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Visitors, especially young people, can learn from Robinson’s example, Philbert said.
“Think about how he dealt with that and his values,” Philbert said. “He was a family man, an entrepreneur, an activist. He was involved in so many ways.”
Off the field, Robinson had numerous accomplishments including helping to construct affordable housing in Brooklyn and a clothing store in Manhattan and wrote a regular column for the Amsterdam News.
After his death in 1972, Robinson’s widow, Rachel, established the foundation to provide college scholarships and mentoring to promising young people.
La’Tonya Johnson, vice president & chief operations officer of the Foundation, said she was hoping people who visited the pop-up, which was only open for the day, will weigh in with their ideas for speakers and topics the museum should tackle.
“It’s really important to us that we explore many of the issues that impact our society today,” she said. “And we think Jackie Robinson is an excellent background to do that.”