For Immediate Release – The Jackie Robinson 75th Anniversary Symposium

Each day and night, from about December 2, 2021 to the end of the lockout on March 10, 2022 I watched and waited for news on the 2022 Major League Baseball Season. I am an active baseball social media fan and follow many of the top local and national sports writers and media outlets. I read the posts and the tweets and snorts and the gripes on social media pages for close to 3 and 1/2 months. And I listened to the sports talk radio shows as they added their take and “2 cents.” Mostly, when I had the opportunity, I watched the team of baseball broadcasters, former MLB players, and select national beat sportswriters on the MLB Network to gain some perspective and maybe hear a glimmer of optimism that the 3 month old lockout would be ending and MLB baseball would be a reality in 2022.

One such sportswriter, one of the best in the business in my opinion, was particularly fearful in his appearances on various MLB Network segments about the 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game. Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947 and in doing so set a record that will never be broken, ever. His Hall of Fame career was only outshined by his brilliance as a community leader and civil rights icon – one that paved the way for generations of baseball players to gain entry into Major League Baseball. The sportswriter was/is Joel Sherman of the New York Post and his fear was that the league’s lockout put the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first game in great jeopardy of being cancelled. And what a tragedy that would be for baseball, exclaimed Sherman each and every time he had air time. With a ton of focus on the luxury tax and the ghost runner at second and compensatory draft picks and billions of dollars, Sherman showed his true baseball fan soul day in and day out by warning of this potential missed opportunity. I loved hearing his passion and his wisdom of the importance of the day and am happy to say that the lockout did end in time and I am sure Major League baseball will be in full celebration mode come the 15th of April, 2022. Thank you Joel Sherman for the history lesson and above all, being a true baseball fan.

Recently, through a press release from Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communications, I learned about a very interesting symposium which I would love to share with you now. There is link to register for this symposium at the end of the press release and i wanted to mention that it is free of charge. And can be viewed live or virtually (online). Also I wanted to give a huge thanks to Claire Smith, Associate Professor, Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication, Co-Director, Temple University’s Claire Smith Center for Sports Media for our email chat about Jackie Robinson, Newport, and Jazz music – 3 of the best things in life!!! Here is the release in its entirety:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Friday, April 8, Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communications’ newly created Claire Smith Center for Sports Media will use its first-ever symposium to examine the civil rights history made by Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers. 

This event will commemorate an important time in history, as April 15, 2022 will mark the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and it is for that incredible legacy that this symposium was created to honor Robinson.

“When Jackie Robinson donned the uniform of the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, he became the first African American to join a major league team in over a half a century,” said Claire Smith, namesake and co-director of the center and groundbreaking sportswriter. “His presence that day fulfilled the dreams of generations of Black players, and Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, that the game’s color barrier be torn down forever. That, and so much more happened that day, as Jackie struck the first major blow of the 20th Century against the insidious segregation that soiled most every aspect of American life.” 

In fact, shortly before his death in 1968, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Jackie Robinson made my success possible. Without him, I would never have been able to do what I did.”

The hybrid symposium, scheduled to begin at noon ET, will feature:

  • Keynote speaker Dusty Baker, manager of the Houston Astros and iconic player
  • Larry Doby Jr., son of the Hall of Famer who broke the color barrier in the American League in July 1947
  • Sean Gibson, great grandson of Josh Gibson and head of the Josh Gibson Foundation
  • Billy King, former 76ers president and only African American to hold such a position with one of the city’s four major professional sports
  • Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Museum, Kansas City
  • Billy King, former 76ers president and only African American to hold such a position with one of the city’s four major professional sports
  • Melissa Ludtke, reporter who, along with Sports Illustrated, filed the lawsuit that that opened MLB clubhouses to women reporters
  • Branch Rickey III, grandson of the Dodgers owner who signed Jackie Robinson in 1947
  • C. Vivian Stringer, first African American women’s coach inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame; only coach to take three different universities to the NCAA Division I Championship Game

Presentations by Temple Journalism students and on-campus news outlets

Also invited to participate are:

  • Aaron McKie, Temple’s men’s basketball head coach; former 76ers standout
  • Ryan Howard, former Phillies All-Star and NL MVP

“Jackie Robinson was an Inspirational ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Black people in America as he broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  His success gave Black people the courage to pursue their passions in all career fields as many brave Black Americans were returning from fighting for the country in World War II,” noted Temple University Vice President and Director of Athletics Arthur Johnson. “He is a reminder that we can pursue our passions at the highest level available to anyone and you represent something bigger than yourself.  His story lives and continues to inspire people of color when MLB honors him each year.” 

Smith noted that Robinson’s legacy has only intensified as he has gone down in history. 

“[Robinson’s] impact remains as relevant today as it was 75 years ago, for the fight for racial equality never ceases,” she said. “Therefore The Claire Smith Center for Sports Media is honored to have as its first public symposium a study of an historic moment that forever changed American culture.”

The plaque photo above was taken by yours truly on a recent trip to Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame. Jackie Robinson’s was one of the first plaques I sought out to read and photograph for my collection. Great baseball story and even better human interest story. For those of those of you in the Philadelphia, PA area and plan on attending live, here is the address for the symposium:

  • Howard Gittis Student Center
  • 1755 North 13th Street
  • Room 217 A-D
  • Philadelphia, PA 19122

Here is the link to join in on this important discussion. According to the event page, the symposium will run from about 12 noon to 5pm. The lineup of guest speakers is incredible and I hope to catch a part of it online this Friday afternoon. Join me to learn more about this important topic. You can register to attend in person or virtually through this Eventbrite link – Jackie Robinson Symposium.

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