ESPN is going all out to honor the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier. Per a press release provided to The Root, the sports network will launch Jackie 75, a season-long project that will “honor Robinson’s lasting legacy, as well as showcase the continued work of Robinson’s wife Rachel as she approaches her 100th birthday on July 19.”
The programming starts April 4 with the 10 episode video series Jackie to Me, featuring interviews with civil rights leaders, entertainers and athletes like Ruby Bridges, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, Rev. Jesse Jackson, tennis great Billie Jean King and hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree “speaking about Robinson’s many legacies and lasting impact across generations.” Every day a video premieres on SportsCenter, Get Up and First Take, with the last video debuting on the April 15 anniversary as part of the network’s all day celebration.
Robinson’s impact on professional sports is well-known and immeasurable. However, hearing how he influenced other athletes and artists could lead to fascinating new discussions. It’s more important than it’s ever been that everyone really understands the full scope of how Black people have shaped the history of America.
“It is an honor to oversee this initiative highlighting the impact of Jackie Robinson through comprehensive coverage of the 75th anniversary,” David Roberts, ESPN head of NBA & studio production said in a statement. “Jackie opened doors for African Americans and all other minority groups in every profession up to and including the President of the United States. That’s why it is extremely important his lasting legacy is recognized and never forgotten.”
In addition to the video series, April 15 includes the broadcast of five college baseball games concluding with Stanford vs UCLA at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2 from Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles.
On July 26, First Take with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim will broadcast live from the opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City. The museum has “4,500+ artifacts, 40,000 historical images and 450+ hours of video footage exploring Robinson’s unwavering commitment to social justice and equal opportunity.”
It’s exciting to see the network take a break from its all football, all the time programming block to honor a true national treasure.