Jackie Robinson wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball uniform and 'B' hat with title of film on right-hand side.

Commemorate Jackie Robinson Day on April 15 with PBS Wisconsin

April 12, 2024 Mike Devine Leave a Comment

As March goes out like a lamb, baseball season roars into full force across Wisconsin in April. Like the new beginnings of spring, April 15 signifies cultural and societal progress: Jackie Robinson Day.

Once dubbed by director Ken Burns as “the most important person in baseball history,” Robinson overcame countless obstacles as he became an American icon during his life-long battle for first-class citizenship on behalf of all African Americans. Major League Baseball retired the number 42 across all teams in 1997 and has celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on April 15 each year since 2004.

Three clips from Jackie Robinson, a two-part four-hour film directed by Ken Burns, Sara Burns and David McMahon, illustrate his journey. And, a story from Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire outlines another baseball great – Henry Aaron – whose own career was influenced by Robinson’s groundbreaking life and work.

Jackie Enters the Majors

April 15, 1947, opening day at Ebbets Field: Playing first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers was number 42, Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Speaks Out

See the moment Jackie Robinson began challenging other ballplayers and umpires. Reporters began to come to Jackie directly as he spoke out more and played a season better than ever before.

Social Justice

The Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlaws racial segregation in schools, but it does not mean total change at once.

Effect of Robinson’s feat in Wisconsin

After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier of baseball, Henry Aaron played for the minor league team the Eau Claire Bears, and went on to have a Hall of Fame career.

Catch the full story with the PBS Wisconsin Passport

PBS Wisconsin Passport members can stream the full program online.

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