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The Jackie Robinson Museum celebrated Jackie Robinson Day in April, hosted a professional development workshop for New York City educators in May, and kicked off June with the second installment of the Leveling the Playing Field Panel Series. Find out what you missed and how to stay connected for future events and programs.

Jackie Robinson Day

Jackie Robinson Day is a busy time for us and this year was no different, with our team hosting engagements with Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson Park, and an exciting stadium-wide activation with the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Museum banners on display at Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem

On April 15, the New York Mets hosted their Black Legacy Game, coinciding with Major League Baseball’s annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration. In attendance was Rachel Robinson, who was honored by the Mets with a special video tribute and flowers delivered by Mets manager Carlos Mendoza and team legend Mookie Wilson. It was a family affair at Citi Field for the Robinsons as Jackie and Rachel’s son, David, and grandson, Busaro, were also in attendance. Busaro threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Butch Huskey, who wore number 42 on the Mets from 1995 to 1998.

The Museum team joined the festivities at Citi Field by organizing various activities for fans throughout the stadium. Museum staff welcomed fans as they entered the Jackie Robinson Rotunda by distributing giveaways like learning guides, pens, and bracelets. Additionally, the Museum staff got fans started on the “Citi Field Challenge,” a stadium-wide scavenger hunt. This interactive activity required fans to explore Citi Field to find clues that would help them answer questions related to Jackie Robinson’s achievements and explore tributes to Robinson at the stadium.

Activities in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, Citi Field

Located in the Rotunda near Robinson’s iconic number 42, was a “Moves Like Jackie” photo station, providing fans with a fun and engaging opportunity to pose with a larger-than-life image of the baseball legend himself. When it was their turn to step up to the plate, fans were able to select from an array of props, including baseballs, bats, gloves, and Dodgers jerseys, and strike their best Jackie Robinson-inspired poses memorializing their experience at Citi Field.

While the Mets took on the Pittsburgh Pirates on the field, fans could head to another activation table near Shea Bridge in center field. Spectators showed off their Jackie Robinson knowledge by taking a spin at the Museum’s trivia wheel game. Those who succeeded in the trivia challenge had the chance to win one of the many exciting prizes, including Jackie Robinson pins.

Fans celebrate a winning answer at Jackie Robinson Trivia, Citi Field

Overall, the night was a tremendous success with the Mets securing an eighth-inning victory over the Pirates, while the Museum celebrated the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson through engaging activities that captivated thousands of baseball fans in attendance at Citi Field!

Fans lined up for Museum activities at Citi Field

Professional Development for NYC Teachers

At the end of May, the Museum’s Education Department collaborated with the NYC Public Schools’ Social Studies and Civics Department to host a full-day professional development session called “Barrier Breaker: Jackie Robinson and the Activism of Professional Athletes.” This opportunity brought together thirty teachers and administrators from schools across the five boroughs to examine some of the Social Studies Team’s Civics for All curricular resources, including the Barrier Breaker #1 comic which focuses on Jackie Robinson’s life and legacy. The session facilitated discussions on how educators can integrate comic books as source materials and stories of athlete activism into their teaching.

The day began with a tour of the Museum’s exhibitions, led by curator Jennifer Jensen and director of education Samantha Gibson. During this time, participants had the opportunity to explore various artifacts on display, while discussing the historical context surrounding Jackie Robinson’s barrier-breaking journey and the role of athletes in advocating for social change.

Educators tour the Museum

After the Museum tour, participants reconvened in the conference room, where Brian Carlin, Director of the Social Studies Department, facilitated a session on utilizing comic books as primary sources in the classroom. This session seamlessly transitioned into the Education Team’s “Rookie of the Year” comic activity, providing a practical application of the concepts earlier discussed.

Analyzing both a 1948 comic book insert highlighting Robinson’s rookie season and the Barrier Breaker #1 comic, participants worked in small groups to think critically about what additional stories could be incorporated to provide a more comprehensive portrayal of Jackie Robinson’s life during the pivotal period of breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Educators rewrite comic books during the Museum’s professional learning day

The afternoon portion of the professional development session concluded with two insightful sessions led by Jenna Ryall, Director of Civics for All, and Joe Schmidt, Senior Instructional Specialist, who facilitated engaging discussions about civic engagement and baseball history, respectively.

Overall, the workshop provided valuable insights regarding the intersection of between sports, activism, and civic engagement and equipped educators with the tools and knowledge necessary to inspire their students and foster a deeper understanding of this intersection through their lessons.

Leveling the Playing Field: Women in Soccer

On June 6, the Museum kicked off the second installment of the Leveling the Playing Field series with a panel discussion on Women in Soccer. An all-star lineup of women, who have been breaking barriers and making a difference in their respective professions, came to together to share their stories on the changing landscape of the world’s game today.

(L to R) Moderator Renee Washington with panelists Bekah Salwasser, Kia McNeill, Darian Jenkins, and Danita Johnson

Renee Washington, PHLY Sports host and ESPN and NWSL Analyst, moderated an inspirational panel full of wisdom and humor shared by Darian Jenkins, Broadcast analyst, former NWSL player, and member of the Black Women’s Player Collective; Danita Johnson, President, Business Operations of DC United; Kia McNeill, Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Brown University; and Bekah Salwasser, Executive Director of the Red Sox Foundation and former professional soccer player for the Boston Breakers.

 

Bekah Salwasser on the transition from professional athlete to front office leadership

With topics ranging from affordability and access issues for young soccer players to career pathways for players transitioning to the world of business, the panelists offered honest and transparent insights into the challenges they have faced as women of color in the sport. However, they also provided the audience with a sense of hope and positivity, conveying that the best is yet to come for the game of soccer. Despite the obstacles, the panelists’ experiences and perspectives highlighted the potential for continued progress, greater inclusivity, and more opportunities for young girls and women to pursue their dreams in the beautiful game.

 

Darian Jenkins on the future of women's soccer

The Museum has been bustling and busy as we continue to share the legacy of Jackie Robinson with a growing audience through our programming. Make sure to sign up for our mailing list and keep an eye on Programs and Events to find out what’s up next!

 

Video transcripts available: Bekah Salwasser (clip 1), Darian Jenkins (clip 2)

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