When the New York Mets play on their home field, 70% of the thousands of fans who attend the games must walk through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The rotunda, modeled after the one at the iconic Ebbets Field, honors Jackie Robinson’s life and many accomplishments. Engraved into the rotunda’s 160-foot-diameter floor and etched into the archways are words and images that espouse Jackie’s nine values: Courage, Excellence, Persistence, Justice, Teamwork, Commitment, Citizenship, Determination and Integrity. Robinson’s famous quote: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” is a reminder to all of his indelible impact on a sport and a nation. JRF’s own Lara Akinleye is among a few alumni who are called on at Citi Field to share the story and legacy of Jackie Robinson. This 2011 graduate of Tufts University works for Harlem RBI while studying for a graduate degree in nursing.
On the day the NY Mets faced the San Francisco Giants, Lara led a small group from the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) as they toured the rotunda. Rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to democratic values and social justice, the Nathan Cummings Foundation “seeks to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes humane health care; and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.” The NCF board listened as Lara described how the Jackie Robinson Foundation supported her during her years in college and how JRF continues to provide her with opportunities to learn and grow. She talked of Jackie’s values and how she tries to emulate those values each and every day of her life.
After the tour, the group was taken to the Mets media room to hear more about Jackie’s life after baseball. JRF’s Chief Historian Dr. Yohuru Williams talked of Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments off the field sharing a little known story of Jackie’s court martial while in the army. Williams skillfully brought together the public story of an icon who broke the color barrier in baseball with the man whose pre and post-baseball life continues to have a profound cultural impact on us all.
The Mets beat San Francisco 5-4.
Pictured above: JRF Alum Lara Akinleye gives Rotunda tour; Dr. Yohuru Williams lectures on Jackie Robinson's pre and post baseball years.