“Jackie to Me” clips begin April 4, with vignettes daily through April 15, celebrating the legacy of Robinson and his widow, Rachel.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier, ESPN will launch multi-month programming next week to honor the sports legend.
“It is a natural opportunity I believe to not only recognize his legacy but to educate those who may not be as familiar as they should be with the impact he had on our way of life,” David Roberts, ESPN’s head of NBA and studio production, told The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive report.
In this April 2013 photo, Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow, poses at the afterparty for the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ film “42” in Los Angeles. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
The coverage will begin on Monday, April 4 with vignettes every day through Friday, April 15, featuring clips of conversations with other athletes and numerous notables shining a light on Robinson’s rich legacy. Some interviewees include Public Enemy frontman Chuck D., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Billie Jean King, and Ruby Bridges. Robinson’s son, David, will also participate in the “Jackie to Me” videos, which will appear on SportsCenter, Get Up, and First Take, plus other ESPN digital properties.
The network also plans to honor Robinson’s widow, Rachel, who will turn 100 in July. “She will also be a critical focal point not only in covering the legacy of her husband, but what Rachel Robinson has done to carry on his legacy is just spectacular,” Roberts said. “I just can’t think of enough adjectives to say how important she is to the fabric of America.”
“Hopefully people will get a clearer understanding of just how impactful Jackie Robinson was, and Rachel Robinson is to this day, and that they will be inspired to learn more about what he went through, and his contributions as a result of all the sacrifices he made, enduring blatant acts of racism that he was subjected to when he broke the color barrier,” Roberts continued.
“I know I wouldn’t be in the position I have if it wasn’t for Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier,” Roberts told The Reporter. “And that applies to any African American, in any profession, up and to including the President of the United States.”
Additionally, ESPN will feature special coverage of college baseball starting April 15, and will broadcast First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim from the opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City on July 26.
Major League Baseball will also celebrate Robinson on April 15 as part of its annual Jackie Robinson Day celebrations.
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