On the eve of Black History Month I was pleased to announce that the City of Côte Saint-Luc will induct Jackie Robinson to our Human Rights Walkway on July 1, 2013 during the Canada Day celebrations at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park. Councillor Allan J. Levine will co-chair this program with me.
“Although the understanding of racial equality has advanced a great deal since Jackie Robinson broke the major league colour barrier, his achievements in advancing tolerance and understanding through the world of sport deserves to be honoured,” Mayor Anthony Housefather said.
Although there had been African American baseball players as late as the 1880s in the professional leagues, the teams that made up professional baseball eventually agreed unofficially to stop using black players. In November 1945, the Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey broke with convention and signed Robinson to a contract. Robinson played for Dodger’s triple-A team, the Montreal Royals in 1946. He debuted with the Dodgers in 1947 and was selected as the Rookie of the Year. Robinson was the National League’s Most Valuable player in 1949, and helped the Dodgers win the World Series in 1955. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
Having been involved in the sports world all of my life I cannot remember a time when black athletes did not make up a high percentage of major leaguers, But you only need to go back 60 years to know a time when there were no black players in Major League Baseball. Jackie Robinson changed history in a tangible way.
Councillor Levine said he hopes that local schools will find a way to bring Robinson’s inspiring life story part of the classroom curriculum, beginning in February, which is Black History Month in Canada. The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library will present a formal display of books about Jackie Robinson during the month of February.
Hollywood will also pay homage to Robinson this year with the release in April of the motion picture “42”, starring Harrison Ford as Dodgers owner Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Robinson.
Former Montreal Expo Warren Cromartie, and president of the Montreal Baseball Project, will partner with us to honour Robinson. He is scheduled to attend the ceremony on July 1, 2013. More details on the event will be released as the event approaches.
Inaugurated in September 2000, the Côte Saint-Luc Human Rights Walkway is dedicated to those men and women who, by their steadfast commitment to mankind, have held high the torch of human rights and let it light the world. Previous inductees include René Cassin, John P. Humphrey, Raoul Wallenberg, Jules Deschênes, Maxwell Cohen, Mary Two-Axe Early, Helen Suzman, Antonio Lamer, Miep Gies, Human Rights Activists for Oppressed Jews in Foreign Lands, and Aung San Suu Kyi.