Mon 10 PM – If you missed it the first time, catch this encore presentation of “Jackie Robinson” a film by Ken Burns. Part 1 will air Monday, October 16th at 10:00 pm and Part 2 will air Monday, October 23rd at 10:00 pm.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson was the first African-American of the 20th century to play in baseball’s major leagues. This documentary tells the story of a national star whose achievements on the sporting field afforded him the fame and the status to campaign against racial discrimination.
Robinson was born in Georgia, in 1919, but raised in California after his family relocated. Although denied many opportunities simply because of his colour, he demonstrated a range of athletic abilities at school, playing gridiron football, basketball and baseball as well as winning a junior tennis championship and excelling on the athletics track. He continued his sporting career at the University of California, Los Angeles, but the outbreak of World War II forced him to put his aspirations on hold. Having been drafted into the army in 1942, Robinson was one of a number of black soldiers to apply for Officer Candidate School. His military career stalled, however, when he was arrested and court-martialled after refusing to move to the back of a segregated bus. He was eventually acquitted of all charges and given an honourable discharge. He now turned his attention to baseball, playing for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues until he caught the attention of Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey. After spending a season with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers‘ feeder club, Robinson made his Major League debut on April 15, 1947.
Thus began a stellar career that saw Robinson win the Rookie Of The Year Award in his first season. He was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons from 1949 to 1954 and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1949, the first black player so honoured. Robinson played in six World Series, including the Dodgers’ victory over the New York Yankees in 1955. Despite suffering racial abuse from fans, opponents and even his own team-mates, Robinson maintained his dignity on the field, refusing to react while allowing his performances to speak for themselves. He would later be inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. Off the field, he was a tireless campaigner for Civil Rights. On his retirement from baseball in 1957, he continued to be an outspoken champion of freedom and equality, diverting his energies into the field of employment rights. Robinson was the first black television analyst in MLB, and the first black vice president of a major American corporation. In the 1960s, he helped to establish the African-American-owned Freedom National Bank. Robinson died tragically young, suffering a fatal heart attack in 1972 at the age of just 53. In recognition of his achievements on and off the field, he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, his jersey number 42 was unilaterally withdrawn across all Major League teams. This is the story of a man who left his mark on society by challenging the prejudiced notions of what a black man could achieve.