Robinson in 2005
Rachel Annetta Isum|
July 19, 1922
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||Manual Arts High School|
University of California, Los Angeles (BS)|
New York University (MS)
(m. 1946; d. 1972)
Rachel Robinson (born Rachel Annetta Isum; July 19, 1922) is a former professor, registered nurse, and the widow of baseball player Jackie Robinson.
Life and work
She was born in Los Angeles and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where she met Robinson in 1941 prior to his leaving UCLA when his baseball eligibility ran out. She graduated from UCLA June 1, 1945, with a bachelor's degree in nursing. Rachel and Robinson married on February 10, 1946, the year before he broke into the big leagues. Their son Jackie Robinson, Jr. (1946–1971) was born in November 1946. The Robinsons would later have a daughter, Sharon, born 1950, and another son, David, born 1952.
After Jackie Robinson's retirement from baseball following the 1956 season, Rachel Robinson further pursued her nursing career, obtaining a master's degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University. She worked as a researcher and clinician at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Department of Social and Community Psychiatry, a position she held for five years. She then became an Assistant Professor at Yale School of Nursing and later the Director of Nursing at the Connecticut Mental Health Center.
In 1972, she incorporated the Jackie Robinson Development Corporation, a real estate development company specializing in low- to moderate-income housing, and served as president for ten years. In 1973, she founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a not-for-profit organization providing educational and leadership opportunities for minority students. The Foundation has provided support for over 1,000 minority students and has maintained a 97% graduation rate among its scholars.
In 2009, she received the UCLA Medal from Chancellor Gene Block for her lifetime achievements. The UCLA Medal is the university’s highest honor and was created to "honor those individuals who have made extraordinary and distinguished contributions to their professions, to higher education, to our society, and to the people of UCLA."
In addition to earning twelve honorary doctorates, Robinson was awarded the Candace Award for Distinguished Service from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Equitable Life Black Achiever's Award and the Associated Black Charities Black History Makers Award.
In 2017, Rachel Robinson received the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. With this award, Rachel and Jackie Robinson became the first married couple to reside alongside each other in Major league Baseball’s Hall of Fame. She believed it was a huge honor. In Rachel Robinson's speech after receiving the award, she discussed the qualities and characteristics of Buck O’Neil, the individual for whom the award is named. She stated that it was an honor not only to receive the award, but also to have stood alongside her husband while he overcame the obstacles thrown his way. She was able to be his support system while still pursuing her career.
Rachel Robinson resisted the idea of a movie being made about Jackie Robinson, whom she referred to as “Jack”, not Jackie. She had discussed the topic with a few individuals in film production, but something to her was just not quite right. She felt those individuals did not have the story as she envisioned it. In the year 2013 she was able to come to an agreement with directors and producers from Legendary Pictures and the Warner Brother’s Studio, and the film "42" was released. She emphasized that it would be a great opportunity to educate individuals about what her life was really like alongside “Jack”. She believed that everyone was curious to know what it was like to live with him, and what their life was like both within and away from the ball park. Rachel discussed how the film would provide real life scenarios on how they were treated after her husband broke the color barrier in the major leagues. She believed it would allow individuals to visualize what her life was really like, and how she had to face and deal with all the challenges that confronted her husband.
Rachel was able to meet with actress Nicole Beharie and give her an idea of what her relationship with “Jack” was really like. She wanted to make sure their story was told as truthfully as possible. Rachel wanted the audience to feel and experience the issues just as she and her husband had.
- "Timeline - Jackie Robinson Foundation".
- "Rachel Robinson, Visionary Videos, NVLP, African American History". National Visionary Leadership Project. Library of Congress American Folklife Center. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Lee, Cynthia (May 5, 2009). "Rachel Robinson to receive UCLA's highest honor". UCLA Today. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009.
- Rachel Robinson & Lee Daniels (1996). Jackie Robinson:. Abrams. p. 240. ISBN 0810937921.
- Barry M. Bloom (April 15, 2007). "Commissioner honors Rachel Robinson". MLB. Retrieved April 15, 2007.
- "Rachel Robinson Encounters a Slur". The New York Times. May 15, 1997.
- Jackie Robinson Foundation Website
- "Timeline of events in the lives of Rachel and Jackie Robinson"
- "Advice from the Top: Robinson's widow offers lessons", USA Today Q&A, April 16, 2007
- Rachel Robinson's oral history video excerpts at the National Visionary Leadership Project
- Peter Dreier, "Honoring Rachel Robinson, Baseball Pioneer and Civil Rights Activist". The Huffington Post, July 20, 2014.