Civil rights activist, professor, nurse, wife, and mother, Rachel Isum Robinson is a woman of many accomplishments, her own and those achieved jointly with her husband, Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 when he played with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Together the couple supported numerous worthy causes. Of particular note is their influence in the area of civil rights in the United States. Since her husband's death in 1972, Mrs. Robinson has used her ability and his legacy to champion the ideals they both embraced, devoting the bulk of her energies to promoting higher education through the establishment of the Jackie Robinson Foundation in 1973.
Many will recall the legendary jazz concerts that Rachel and Jackie Robinson hosted at their home in Stamford, Connecticut, beginning in 1963, to benefit the causes they supported, including providing bail money for jailed civil rights activists in southern States. The iconic Afternoon of Jazz events were hosted for decades and drew crowds of thousands each year and some of the most recognizable musical artists in the genre including Dizzie Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis.
Shortly after the death of her husband, Rachel Robinson incorporated the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation, which was founded to build and manage housing for people of moderate and low incomes. A year later, Mrs. Robinson created the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to prepare the leaders of tomorrow by providing generous four-year college scholarships, extensive mentoring and practical services, such as internship placement, to highly motivated minority students.
After graduating from the University of California at Los Angeles with honors, Mrs. Robinson went on to earn a Masters degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University. She worked as a researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Department of Social and Community Psychiatry and became the Director of Nursing for the Connecticut Mental Health Center and an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Yale University.
After decades heading the Jackie Robinson Foundation's board of directors, Rachel Robinson stepped down as chair in 1996. That same year, she authored “Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait,” published by Abrams Publishing Company. Mrs. Robinson has received numerous awards and honors throughout her adult life, most recently the Black Enterprise Women of Power Legacy Award in 2012. In addition, St. John's University, Springfield College, MacAlester College, Boston College, Suffolk University, New York University, Connecticut College and the University of Massachusetts have conferred upon her honorary doctorates.
Rachel and Jackie Robinson had three children, Jack, Jr., David and Sharon. Mrs. Robinson now spends considerable time enjoying her sixteen grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
|Rachel Robinson Tribute Slide Show|
National Visionary Leadership Project
Rachel Receives UCLA's Highest Honor
MSNBC's Interviews Rachel Robinson
Charlie Rose Interviews Rachel Robinson
C-Span: Congressional Gold Medal for Jackie Robinson
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