From Victim to Victor: The Cultural Impact of Jackie Robinson’s Groundbreaking

Project Partner:
To the Village Square, Inc
Contract Period:
September 2018 – September 2019
Amount Awarded:
$5,000
Region Served:
Region 1 - Panhandle
Categories

On the 100th anniversary of his birth in nearby Cairo and with the assistance of a $5,000 Community Project Grant from Florida Humanities, The Village Square hosted a major community event to discuss the impact of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, how it laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement, and what we can learn from Robinson’s example today. Panelists included Jackie Robinson’s cousin, Dr. Linda Walden, who spearheaded the effort to have Jackie’s birthplace placed on the Historic Registry. Also joining our discussion was special guest Fred Flowers, who — as the first black Seminole to put on an FSU uniform — broke FSU’s color barrier soon after integration began. Fred is the athlete commemorated in the statue “Integration,” which was dedicated in 2004. Also joining the conversation was Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Sanchez, whose career began writing sports columns in the Florida Flambeau during the civil rights protests of the 60’s, continued as he taught journalism at FAMU and wrote for The Miami Herald.  This riveting panel truly captured vast knowledge and absolutely unique information on this deeply human and historic topic.

Attendees learned about the history of the black athlete in America, beginning with the history of betting on games around black slave athleticism between slave owners, moving through the story of black jockeys in the first running of the Kentucky Derby, to Robinson’s unique role. This momentous event was contextualized in the history and culture of the time – from a broad perspective, but also zeroing in on the intimate little known aspects of Robinson’s experience as told by his family.  This intimacy was extended by Mr. Flowers’ telling of his personal story, one that mirrored Robinson’s locally.

Additional events included a four-month local history-centered “42 Challenge” scavenger hunt to locate four local sites that have connections to Robinson’s life, snap selfies and win prizes, along with a screening of the film “42” on Jackie Robinson Day.

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Partner Spotlight

Partner: To the Village Square, Inc. (Tallahassee, FL)

Project Director: Liz Joyner

About the Partner Organization:

The Village Square is a non-profit, non-partisan public educational forum that convenes over 30 community events annually in order to build ideologically and demographically diverse engagement around matters of local, state and national importance.  A key civic organization in the Tallahassee community since 2006, The Village Square offers an innovative model of civic engagement that seeks to build a 21st century revival of the American town hall – a dynamic, vibrant civic center where residents from all backgrounds exchange ideas and engage with neighbors.

“[Village Square] feels far more like you are partners in getting the project done than simply grantors. Truly, we feel like you’re on Team Village Square and that is simply invaluable.”

“[Village Square] feels far more like you are partners in getting the project done than simply grantors. Truly, we feel like you’re on Team Village Square and that is simply invaluable.”