Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars and alumni were on the field in the nation’s stadiums as Major League Baseball (MLB) and the teams hosted the annual Jackie Robinson Day event that pays tribute to our beloved namesake Jackie Robinson. All of the players, managers and officials of 18 of the 30 teams wore the number 42 on Monday, April 15th, the 66th anniversary of Robinson’s heroic entry into the major leagues that broke the color barrier in baseball and forever changed the social landscape of the country. Other teams “followed suit” on Tuesday, April 16th. Forty JRF Scholars and alumni participated in pre-game ceremonies celebrating “JR Day”.
Jackie Robinson Scholar Zenzele Olatunji, a freshman at Mills College, and alumnus Lauren Booker, a recent graduate of Harvard Business School, took part in the festivities in Oakland, CA throwing out the ceremonial first pitches at the Oakland A’s game. JRF Alumni Kendra Gaither (NC A&T'96), Ashley Hill (Carnegie Mellon '10), Felicia Hunter, (USC '10), Lynette Taylor (James Madison '98) and Raymond Nelson (Carleton College '12), as well as Scholar Brittany Thomas (Johns Hopkins '15), took part in the Jackie Robinson Day ceremonies at the Washington Nationals Ballpark.
Dodger Stadium hosted the national “JR Day” commemoration, attended by JRF Founder Rachel Robinson and JRF board member Sharon Robinson. At a private reception before the Dodgers/Padres game, JRF Alumni Babatunde Akinloye (UCLA'08) and Paulina Villanueva (UCLA '13) and current JRF Scholar Ajwang Rading (UCLA '14) shared their experiences as Jackie Robinson Foundation beneficiaries. They, along with JRF Scholars Shakinah Douglas (UCLA '13), Omar Corona (UCLA '16), and Crystal Salas (UCLA '16) were recognized for their achievements on the field in front of more than 50,000 fans. Said Scholar Omar Corona, “As an LA native, the experience of going to the Dodger game was wonderful. I feel very proud and grateful to celebrate Jackie's legacy.”
(pictured above: Scholars and Alumni at the Washington Nationals- from l-r: JRF Alumni Kendra Gaither and Lynette Taylor, Scholar Brittany Thomas, Nationals mascot "Screech", Scholar Felicia Hunter, Alumnae Ashley Hill and Scholar Raymond Nelson)