The Mount Vernon Arts & Cultural Society Inc and The Mount Vernon hosted a celebration of the 73rd Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s integration in Major League Baseball, Wednesday, March 11th.
The celebration consisted of two separate presentations by Dr. Richard Zamoff, Director of The Jackie Robinson Project at George Washington University. The first one was ‘Jackie Robinson: More Than A Baseball Player, at the Children’s Library at 3:30 pm which focused largely on Robinson’s achievements after baseball. Then an adult presentation, ‘Jackie Robinson: Still Relevant After All These Years,’ in the MVPL Community Room at 6 pm.
“As people of African ancestry, we need to create our own Black List of people who have impacted our lives and the American culture,” Judy Williams-Davis, President, Mt. Vernon Arts Society shared with Black Westchester. “It helps us as a people and a society to recognize how Jackie Robinson used a sport called baseball as an entrance to break down one of the most persistent and devastating problems today -racism.”
Black Westchester sat down with Dr. Zamoff and Ms. Maura Reilly to discuss the presentations, the Jackie Robinson Project and much more (see video below).
In 1996, just prior to the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking of baseball’s color barrier, Dr. Richard Zamoff secured a small grant from the District of Columbia Humanities Council to establish a project centered on Mr. Robinson’s place in American history.
Advancing the study of Mr. Robinson’s life has been a focus for Dr. Zamoff. He grew up “in the shadows of Yankee Stadium,” he said but cheered for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“We were raised that the Dodgers were more than a baseball team and that there was a significance to Jackie Robinson that went well beyond the playing field,” Dr. Zamoff said.
His popular sociology course, “Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports, and the American Dream,” has been the cornerstone of the Jackie Robinson Project since its inception. Dr. Zamoff, who recently was selected professor of the year by GW student-athletes, uses Mr. Robinson’s life to peel back contemporary issues in race, gender, sport, and U.S. society.
“It’s basically looking at the role of sport and how people like Arthur Ashe or Jack Johnson or Billie Jean King or Jim Brown or Curt Flood changed America,” Dr. Zamoff said. “Robinson is the focal point, but the spin-offs are many.”