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The African American Experience 

Gordon Davis at Jackie Robinson Park Dedication


Description: Courtesy of New York City Parks Photo Archive, Neg. 53137.10. In 1978 Colonial Park was officially renamed for Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), who notably broke the "color barrier" in professional baseball when he was played for the Brooklyn Dodgers… more.

Gordon Davis at Jackie Robinson Park Dedication

Courtesy of New York City Parks Photo Archive, Neg. 53137.10. In 1978 Colonial Park was officially renamed for Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), who notably broke the "color barrier" in professional baseball when he was played for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. The first African American to play in a Major League baseball game, Robinson paved the way for generations of black athletes competing in American's "national pastime." Robinson helped lead the Dodgers to six World Series appearances, and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. After retiring from baseball, he became a businessman at the Chock-Full-of-Nuts restaurant chain, and was involved in several black-owned community-based enterprises, such as the Freedom National Bank, which he co-founded. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and later served as special advisor to New York State Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller. In this picture Gordon J. Davis, the first African American to hold the post of Parks Commissioner, and Councilman Fred Samuel unveil the sign renaming the park for Robinson. Appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch, Davis served as commissioner from 1978 to 1983. As Commissioner, Davis helped revitalize the Parks Department, establishing the Central Park Conservancy and Urban Park Rangers, among many reforms and improvements enacted during his administration. A partner in the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in 2009, Davis has served as a trustee or board member of numerous institutions, including Con Edison, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the New York Public Library and the Phoenix Companies, and has served as chairman of Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Location: Jackie Robinson Park, Manhattan
Date: June 12, 1978

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