The Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City opens to the public
The Museum celebrates not only Robinson’s impact in baseball, but also the Civil Rights Movement.
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The Jackie Robinson Museum has officially opened to the public and is located on 75 Varick Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City. The Museum is not only about baseball but also about the civil rights movement.
Robinson first played baseball in 1945 for the Negro Leagues, specifically the Kansas City Monarchs. Yet then, in 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers' general manager Branch Rickey signed Robinson for an annual salary worth $5,000, signifying Robinson breaking the color barrier and becoming the first Black man to play baseball in the Major Leagues (MLB) 75 years ago.
"April 15, 1947, was a historic day in our country because the United States was tremendously polarized racially. When Jackie stepped out onto Ebbets Field on that day it was momentous and to this day is the pivoted moment in the civil rights movement," Jackie Robinson Foundation president and CEO Della Britton said.
In nine years with the Dodgers, he was a six-time All-Star, and played in six World Series, winning it in 1955.
The Jackie Robinson Museum will honor his legacy.
"Jackie Robinson is forever remembered for breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947. The new Museum proudly displays his uniform, bat and other historical memorabilia. But his widow, Rachel Robinson, now 100, insisted that the Museum focuses on her husband's work beyond the playing field. Which she said was more important to the both of them," NBC News correspondent Ron Allen said.
After Robinson's baseball career, he committed to his community. He started a bank and ran a construction company that built affordable housing. He wanted all Americans to have class citizenship rights. He used his baseball celebrity status to push civil rights issues and disparity to receive attention.
“I never called Jack, Jackie but he meant everything to me. We were in love and we were great partners. He was a very committed person to other people. My husband had a passionate belief in equality for all people and was determined to advance that cause,” Rachel Robinson said.
"He was the original activist athlete. He lived 53 years but did a lot in those years," said Britton, who helped design the Jackie Robinson Museum.
Robinson's life was cut short when he died of a heart attack in 1972 at 53. But he remains a remembered figure.
In 1984, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor — and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2005. In 1962, Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and in 1997, his number 47 was retired from every MLB team.
Robinson's army suit will also be displayed at the Museum, which made him one of the few Black officers. He also faced a court martial for refusing to move to the back of a military bus, eleven years before Rosa Parks.