Jackie Robinson Park

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Jackie Robinson

History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found postedwithin the park.

Who is this monument dedicated to?

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) is legendary for his pioneering role as one of the first Black professional baseball player in the major leagues (Moses Fleetwood Walker is now recognized as the first). Born in Cairo, Georgia and raised in Pasadena, California, Robinson excelled as an athlete at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he became the first student to earn letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. He played football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs, before serving in the army during World War II. After the war, Robinson played baseball in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs. Brooklyn Dodgers general manager, Brandon Rickey signed him to the Dodger’s top farm team, the Montreal Royals, in 1945.

On April 15, 1947, Robinson made history as the first African American to play in a major league baseball game and paved the way for generations of Black athletes to compete in America’s national pastime. Robinson led the Dodgers, as a second baseman, to six World Series appearances. He retired in January 1957 with a lifetime batting average of .311. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

Robinson became an executive with the Chock Full O’ Nuts restaurant chain as well as a number of Black-owned community enterprises such as Freedom National Bank (which he co-founded) and a land development firm. He was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and civil rights. Robinson died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut in 1972.

How was this monument created?

Dedicated in 1981, the sculpture was sponsored by the Harlem Cultural Council with a grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs’ Community Arts Development. Artist Inge Hardison (1914-2016) is best known for the series of sculptural portraits of famous African Americans that she started in 1963, which she called “Negro Giants in History,”.

Hardison was born in Portsmouth, Virginia to a chicken farmer and teacher. Escaping segregation, her family moved to Brooklyn where she attended school and started her brief Broadway career. Backstage and as a model at the Art Students League, Hardison started to make clay sculptures for fun. She continued her education at Vassar College, the Art Students League, and Tennessee State University.

In addition to her “Giants” series, she created “Ingenious Americans”, a body of work that highlighted Black inventors. Her work can be found at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, and Intermediate School 74 in the Bronx.

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  • Bust, two plaques
  • Bust, two plaques

Jackie Robinson Details

  • Location: West 147th St. and Bradhurst Avenue
  • Sculptor: Ruth Inge Hardison
  • Description: Bust, two plaques
  • Materials: Bronze
  • Cast: 1981
  • Dedicated: November 10, 1981
  • Foundry: Modern Art Foundry, Inc.
  • Donor: NYC Department of Cultural Affairs' Community Arts, funded by US Department of HUD
  • Inscription: [top plaque]
    JACKIE ROBINSON / 1919 1972 / FIRST BLACK MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER / "LIFE OWES ME NOTHING. BASEBALL OWES ME NOTHING. / BUT I CANNOT, AS AN INDIVIDUAL REJOICE IN THE GOOD THINGS I HAVE BEEN / PERMITTED TO WORK FOR AND LEARN WHILE THE HUMBLEST OF / MY BROTHERS IS DOWN IN A DEEP HOLE HOLLERING FOR HELP / AND NOT BEING HEARD." /

    [bottom plaque]
    SCULPTURE OF JACKIE ROBINSON BY INGE HARDISON / PRODUCED BY HARLEM CULTURAL COUNCIL, INC. WITH / A GRANT FROM THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT / OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS COMMUNITY ARTS DEVELOPMENT / PROGRAM FUNDED BY THE UNITED STATES / DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT. /

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namingsoften in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, butnot necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the yearlisted reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8163

Directions to Jackie Robinson Park

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