By Joe Pantorno
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF), a non-profit organization based in New York City which awards scholarships to minority youths for higher education while preserving the legacy of the man who broke baseball’s color barrier, Jackie Robinson, is still relaying the messages of its namesake almost 50 years after his death.
As the city and the country are in the throes of civil unrest that has been aggravated by rioting, looting, and aggressive police behavior, the organization representing the man who helped spark the conversation of civil rights half a century ago admitted that these are precarious times.
“America stands at a crossroads. Allowing discriminatory policies and practices to continue to claim the lives of Black Americans is abhorrent,” the Jackie Robinson Foundation said in a statement obtained by amNewYork Metro. “George Floyd joins countless Black citizens who have lost their lives in the wake of systemic bigotry — in full view, in broad daylight, with blatant disregard for the basic rights of all Americans.”
“If our country’s majority does not choose now to work to correct the glaring injustices that persist, the future for all of us is bleak. Jackie Robinson’s decades-old exclamation resonates today: There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.”
Robinson is considered one of the most influential Americans in the country’s history, becoming the first black man to play in Major League Baseball in over 60 years during the 1947 season with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
While a sterling 10-year playing career that resulted in enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame featured a Rookie of the Year Award, a National League MVP title, six NL pennants, and one World Series title, Robinson used his platform following his playing days to fight for civil rights alongside the likes of Martin Luther King Jr.
His tireless work ethic and overwhelming desire to improve a country that is still addressing many of the problems he spoke out against is what his namesake organization admits the country needs from all of its citizens.
“With the support of allies of all races and backgrounds, the Jackie Robinson Foundation will continue to work to level the playing field for all Americans to engage in meaningful dialogue to have a humanitarian path forward in the spirit of the values for which our namesake stood and fought.”
One year after Robinson’s death in 1972, his wife, Rachel — who will turn 98 in July — founded the JRF as a commitment to providing equal opportunities by addressing the achievement gap in higher education. Their daughter, Sharon, serves as a vice chairwoman of the foundation.
The foundation has provided $65 million in scholarship assistance and program support to over 1,450 students of color. Their scholars’ 100% graduation rate is more than double the national average for minority students.
This story first appeared on amNY.com