As we celebrate Legendary Picture's film "42" about Jackie Robinson's heroic integration of Major League Baseball, we are excited as well for the lesser known story that the film tells.
"42" chronicles Jackie Robinson’s inaugural year in Major League Baseball and the groundbreaking impact it would have not only on the sport but also on the entire social landscape of our nation. Importantly, “42” also explores the deep and abiding love between Jackie and Rachel Robinson, a bond which ultimately produced the power to help future generations of leaders embrace the positive values embodied in the lives of this courageous couple. The rich partnership between Rachel and Jackie is largely unfamiliar to the public but crucial to defining and fully understanding the enduring legacy of Jack Roosevelt Robinson.
As the film depicts, Rachel and Jackie were a formidable united front against the counter-forces they faced. Harboring extraordinary love and respect for each other, they weathered their unique battles with a common set of values that formed the basis of their shared legacy that thrives today. Rachel Robinson's own strength and wisdom afforded her the ability to steadfastly support "Jack", raise a family, and develop herself professionally, as she went on to earn a Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at New York University after completing her undergraduate studies at UCLA. Gaining a keen sense of the challenges Jackie and Rachel endured, one fully appreciates Rachel Robinson's resolve to create the lasting tribute she established in 1973, to address the disparity in educational opportunities, the key to effecting true equality.
When Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson embarked on their historic venture to integrate the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, they did so with the hope that Jackie’s talent and strength of character and Rickey's vision and support would be enough to alert reasonable minds to the insanity of American apartheid. Rachel was the linchpin of Jackie's support system, as he braved the dogged attempts to thwart his and Rickey’s goals. The success of the "noble experiment" indeed bore fruit not only in the integration of baseball but in reducing barriers to equality across society.
Continuing the commitment to equality, when Jackie retired from baseball in 1957, the Robinsons became deeply involved in the struggle for civil rights. They advocated for social justice alongside NAACP leaders by chairing a major fundraising campaign, participating in voter registration efforts, marching in protests and appealing personally to government officials. Jackie and Rachel gave generously of their time and resources to other such efforts as well, notably to the non-violent campaigns waged by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King in places like Birmingham, Alabama.
The couple knew that one of the greatest barriers to achievement lay in the critical area of post-secondary education, which they both had enjoyed. Leaving UCLA in his senior year under pressure to pursue a job opportunity, Jackie maintained a lifelong concern that students have access to quality education and stressed the importance of college to the young people he encountered.
While the couple had been involved in a number of social issues from inadequate low-income housing to drug rehabilitation to voting rights, after Jackie Robinson’s death in 1972, Rachel chose, as the most fitting tribute to her remarkable husband, the establishment of the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) to promote opportunities for higher education.
Over the past 40 years, the Foundation has ensured educational success for more than 1400 alumni and our efforts continue strategically and in earnest with financial and comprehensive programmatic support to some 200 college students annually.
So the power of the film "42” is not limited to the riveting story of Jackie's monumental impact on America's greatest pastime. The story told by writer and director Brian Helgeland for Legendary Pictures also gives a glimpse of the love, respect, and admiration that Jackie and Rachel Robinson shared.
It is our hope that the movie "42" sparks a renewed interest in the story of Jackie Robinson's heroism. We also hope that people conclude that the best way to honor a hero who sacrificed so much to create a smoother path for others is to support the Robinson's commitment to use their earned celebrity to promote equal opportunity for all of our citizens, which Rachel did profoundly in establishing and nurturing the Jackie Robinson Foundation for so many years.
"There is nothing that can quite measure up to the richness of sports history that is contained in the movie "42" #JackieRobinson
"If you have seen the movie 42 , you know all about this real life photograph. pic.twitter.com/tcb4f8PC4s "
"I cannot wait to see this movie!!!! ❤Jackie Robinson's widow says '42' hits home"
"Jackie Robinson was my personal hero."
""42" is the most important movie @Legendary will ever make. -Thomas Tull"
"Jackie Robinson. Wow!! The "42" movie was AWESOME. April 12 get to the box office. This movie is EPI"
"This movie called 42 about Jackie Robinson looks like its gonna be good. I respect him so much for what he endured."
"Just got out of a private screening of 42. It was Incredible. He is truly an American hero!"
I learned so much that I wouldn't have had the chance to learn from any class that I've ever taken or from any textbook. Being on the set was such an exhilarating experience. I was able to learn by "shadowing" some of the heads of the different departments and most days I got to help out the production team and learn about how a movie is produced, which was great because I am a producing major). There was even a day when Chadwick Boseman sat down with us providing advice on writing, acting, and other things that young, up-coming students may want to know about the industry. Every day was full of new experiences. We got to meet and get advice from so many professionals that have done some of the most amazing work in recent cinema history. Oh, and the food wasn't bad either!
My experience working on "42" could not have been better. At first, I was able to shadow different departments to learn their specific role in the moviemaking process. For the last week or so, I worked with the production assistants in "locking up" the set or helping preserve the visual and audible integrity of the scene. I met almost the entire cast and in some instances got to take pictures with them or have conversations with them. Although the work days were generally 12+ hours, I enjoyed every minute of it and am glad that I got this opportunity.
Barely holding back my tears, my emotions poured as I read the last page of the script. I thought to myself how wonderfully this biopic film,” 42”, depicts the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Robinson. As a Jackie Robinson Foundation Alumni, I endearingly, and even protectively, refer to the pair as Jackie and Rachel; they are such an integral part of my life, and have been for the last 7 years that I feel an unspoken, but deep connection to them both. Brian Helgeland, beautifully and masterfully, weaves a story of a baseball maverick, his brave soldier, and the woman who kept Jack Robinson strong. Nicole Beharie, effortlessly captures the grace and elegance of Mrs. Robinson in a way that makes me regret not getting to set in time for Rachel’s visit. Before I even arrived, I hoped everyone involved in the making of the film would understand the significance of the story they were commissioned to tell. My hopes were realized when I discovered that absolutely everyone on set from the directors, to production assistants to the catering staff surpassed my expectations; the entire crew and cast seemed to understand the significance of this story. Everyone was passionately intent on making the finished product perfect and true to life.
To be a scholar in Jackie Robinson’s name is to have the tremendous honor of being a lifelong ambassador for his legacy. Mr. Robinson inspires me to do everything I do with excellence. He challenges me to never hold back my ambitions to be the greatest possible force for good one can be. Jackie and Rachel Robinson’s great love story touches me especially and here, too, Mr. Robinson is a role model. His was a trailblazing spirit, but it was also a uniting one – whose great skill, character, and grace helped bring our country closer together. By showing that we could work together as one, Jackie Robinson helped our nation come closer to the day where we can live as one people too.
Jackie Robinson has served as a great inspiration in my life by the example he led both on and off the field. Demonstrating determination in every aspect of his life is how I aspire to be in my own life. His ability to resist the temptation to retaliate to the negativity around him while keeping his eyes on the goal is extremely honorable. The amount of courage he had throughout his life in order to accomplish all that he did is more than I can imagine. Looking at his life and trials, I have learned that rejection and discouragement from others is to enable me with a sense of willpower to succeed at anything. Allowing your struggles and obstacles to define who you are and what goals you accomplish is not the way to be successful. To be successful one must gain courage, determination and perseverance just as Mr. Robinson demonstrated throughout his life.
For 40 years, the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) has expanded educational opportunities for talented and deserving students by providing college scholarships, leadership development and practical life skills training using the values of Jackie and Rachel Robinson as a backdrop. The success of JRF’s program is illustrated by its 99% graduation rate.
Now the Jackie Robinson Foundation is poised to establish the Jackie Robinson Museum in lower Manhattan. More than a permanent tribute to Jackie Robinson’s pioneering legacy and role as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, the museum will serve as a venue for vibrant dialogue on critical social issues and as a destination for innovative educational programming.
Support Our Efforts to build a lasting tribute to Jackie Robinson
Baseball player, civil rights activist. Born Jack Roosevelt Robinson on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier becoming the first African–American to play in baseball's major leagues. The youngest of five children, Robinson was raised in relative poverty by a single mother. Raised in Pasadena, California, Jackie attended high school and junior college there and later continued his education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became the university's first student to win varsity letters in four sports. From 1942 to 1944, Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He never saw combat, however; Robinson was arrested and court–martialed during boot camp after he refused to move to the back of a segregated bus during training. He was later acquitted of the charges and received an honorable discharge. His courage and moral objection to segregation were precursors to the impact Robinson would have in major league baseball.