By Dana Albon
On Sunday, January 13th Mr. Gregory Kenney performed to over fifty local residents as part of the Pride and Passion series: The African-American Baseball Experience currently in progress at the Poughkeepsie Public Library in Poughkeepsie. Kenney, who has personified Jackie Robinson for over seventeen years, was both enthusiastic and charismatic as he told the story of Jackie’s early life and professional career.
Performing to local Poughkeepsie schools this week, Gregory Kenney hopes the young people will be able to come away learning an important lesson. "With this current program it’s about teamwork, treating each other with respect, and persevering through adversity," explained Kinney.
Jackie Robinson is well known for being the first African American to play Major League Baseball. When he took the field in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson broke the color barrier that had previously relegated African Americans strictly to the Negro Leagues.
Playing first for the Kansas City Monarchs, Robinson was drafted to play for the Negro League teams in 1945. Unhappy with the grueling game schedule and overall disorganization, Robinson sought out other opportunities.
After forty seven games playing shortstop for the Monarchs, Robinson formally signed a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers, obliterating the color line in baseball and becoming the first African American to play on a Major League Baseball team in 1947.
Despite his growing popularity, Robinson faced unwelcome hostility from both teammates and patrons alike, but was able to persevere though adversity and become a baseball legend. By the end of his career, Robinson played in six world series games.
Jackie Robinson was not just an amazing baseball talent, he was an individual that was instrumental in the Civil Rights movement in our country. Paving the way in the world of athletics with understanding and tolerance for others who would follow in his footsteps in the years to come, Jackie Robinson truly broke down the color barrier not just in baseball, but in the United States.