After 69 years, the City of Philadelphia will offer a posthumous apology to Jackie Robinson. The City Council unanimously passed a resolution today for what it called virulent racism and hate during his career.
Robinson was the first black player in the major leagues when he made his debut on April 15, 1947. His No. 42 uniform number was retired in perpetuity in a 1997 ceremony at Shea Stadium in New York attended by Robinson’s widow, Rachel, and then President Bill Clinton.
“Our colleagues decided to introduce this resolution to celebrate Jackie Robinson,” said Councilwoman Helen Gym, who introduced the resolution.
Robinson died at the young age of 53 in 1972. He was depicted in a 2013 biopic that received critical acclaim and was a box office hit.
Rachel Robinson, now 93 years old, is expected to attend the ceremony that will be held on April 15, 2016 to accept the apology.
Robinson was refused service by a local hotel in the city and was taunted by Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman. Opposing players would hurl racial slurs every time Robinson went up to bat.
… Chapman, the Phils’ manager, led the bench in crude taunting such as, “Go back to the cotton fields” and “They’re waiting for you in the jungles, black boy.”
“Philadelphia was one of the most disappointing places where he experienced racism,” said Gym. “And I felt like it was important for City Council to acknowledge that, to acknowledge a great man. And that sometimes can start with an apology.”
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