Story of the Week
It is fitting that I write this article today as Rachel Robinsonís birthday is Saturday. She was born Rachel Annetta Isum on July 19, 1922. She is a former nurse and the widow of Jackie Robinson. Rachel was born in Los Angeles, California, and graduated UCLA. There, she met Jackie in 1941, and she married him on February 10, 1946. The Robinsons would later have a son, Jackie Robinson, Jr., a daughter, Sharon, and another son, David.
After Jackieís retirement from baseball, Rachel Robinson pursued her nursing career, eventually becoming an Assistant Professor at Yale School of Nursing, and later the Director of Nursing at the Connecticut State Mental Health Center in New Haven.
In 1973, a year after Jackie died, Rachel founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Iíve certainly not kept my feelings for Jackie a secret. Itís apparent on my website, in my office, when I do guest speaking, in my conversations with others, etc. He made a historical mark on society that few people ever achieve. Through it all, as difficult as it was for him, Rachel made it all more tolerable with her steadfast support of her husband through the many indignities and tribulations perpetrated upon him, and upon her as well. What Jack went through was hell; it would have been far worse without this extraordinary woman at his side.
What Jackie went through at that time has been publicized for years. We all know about that. But we cannot possibly imagine what Rachel went through at the same time as his wife and primary support base.
I am proud to be a contributor to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. It was a great pleasure for me to visit the new Foundation offices in New York last September. I am proud to know Rachel. Of all the memorabilia in my office, nothing means more to me than the personalized biography of Jackie that she sent me as a gift. (Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. By Rachel Robinson.) What I didnít tell her was that I already owned the book, along with everything else ever written about her husband, but this book, the one she personalized to me, is my prized possession.
ABOUT THE JRF THAT RACHEL ROBINSON FOUNDED 35 YEARS AGO:
The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) is a public, not-for-profit national organization founded by Rachel Robinson in 1973 as a vehicle to perpetuate the memory of Jackie Robinson and his achievements. Serving as an advocate for young people with the greatest need, the Foundation assists increasing numbers of minority youths through the granting of four-year scholarships for higher education.
The Jackie Robinson Foundation provides much more than financial support. While each Jackie Robinson Scholar receives up to $7,500 a year in financial support, they also become an active member in the Foundationís unique Education and Leadership Development Program, which is an extensive mentoring program that includes attendance at workshops, assignment of a peer and a professional mentor and placement into summer internships and permanent employment.
JRF STATISTICS 2007-2008
57 new JRF Scholars
12 Extra Innings Fellows
259 total JRF Scholars and Fellows
JRF Scholars are enrolled at 93 colleges and universities
JRF Scholars represent 30 States and the District of Columbia
92 corporations, foundations and individuals currently support the Foundationís Education and Leadership Development Program (ELDP)
Over 1,200 students from 43 states and the District of Columbia have received scholarships.
Over $16 million in scholarship awards have been distributed.
JRF Scholars maintain a 97% graduation rate Ė more than twice the national average for minority students.
Founded in 1986, the JRF Alumni Association (JRFAA) includes over 1,000 graduates and is represented on the Jackie Robinson Board of Directors and Selection Committees.
JRF Scholars are selected by regional selection committees consisting of academic, corporate and civic leaders.
Applicants are selected on academic ability, financial need and leadership potential. Selection committees are based in the following regions: New England, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Central, Midwest, Southwest and West.
You, too, can be a contributor to the JRF:
Jackie Robinson Foundation
One Hudson Square
75 Varick Street (2nd Floor)
New York, NY 10013-1917
Fax: (212) 290-8081
As I know Rachel will read this article today on my website (actually, she read the article earlier this week), again, Happy Birthday to you, Rachel. You are an absolutely remarkable woman, and it is my privilege to know you.
Last Weekís Trivia
Itís obviously no accident that I chose a trivia question last week about Jackie Robinson that would be answered today. On March 17, 1965, Jackie signed as a member of the ABC-TV baseball broadcast team, thus becoming the first black to receive a network position broadcasting baseball.
Trivia Question of the Week
Who was the first pro football player to catch 100 passes in a single season? See next week's Sports Junkie for the answer.