[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap] attended the unveiling of the Jackie Robinson statue at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The entire city of Pasadena was in attendance including nearly 100 members of Jackie Robinson’s family. While covering local stories is always a thrill, it was a subtle gesture that took place after the festivities that changed my life.
There was a private reception held for the donors and special guests of the unveiling. I was told that opportunities to interview key speakers would be available at the reception. I made my way down to the tunnel, I saw a security guard with “the list,” also known as the few names of the elite meant to keep the fray out. Since I had correspondence with the public relations contacts ahead of the event, I just knew my name was going to be on there. I said my name, the security guard skimmed over the list, even checked the back and said ‘Sorry you aren’t on here.’ Just as I was being turned away, I saw the public relations woman escorting Jackie Robinson’s wife, Rachel and daughter Sharon Robinson. They were getting off the golf cart when I told the woman that I was a reporter. She waved me off and said, ‘You have to wait for my boss, the director of public relations if your name isn’t on the list.’ She proceeded to guide Mrs. and Ms. Robinson into the tunnel. I was embarrassed and kind of deflated. Then I overheard Jackie Robinson’s daughter say, ‘Let her in…I don’t care she can come with us.’
[su_quote cite=”Let her in. -Sharon Robinson”][/su_quote]
The PR woman poked her head out of the tunnel and motioned for me to come. It was one of those moments you never forget. If I could summarize it in a motion, it was as though Ms. Robinson’s hand was stretched behind waiting for me to grab it. In that moment I realized that this is what Jackie Robinson sacrificed for, it was for the ability to reach back and bring up the next person. This is a woman who had never met me, had no idea what I did and was at an event honoring her father who just so happens to be one of the greatest athletes to ever play the game of baseball. Oh and did I mention that he broke the color barrier in America’s past time. She certainly did not have to extend any courtesies for a complete stranger, but she did. I was humbled by the honor to be literally be walking behind Mrs. Rachel Robinson who was two steps ahead of all of us and Ms. Sharon who followed.
As if the symbolism of walking behind those two was not enough, the visual of walking in a tunnel behind two generations of black women was overwhelming. I’m getting emotional just writing about it. A sense of purpose came over me in that very moment and reminded me of why I decided to pursue a career in journalism. The stories of black people is important, our history, our culture, and our legacy. When we got to the reception, we were surrounded by majority people who did not look like us. I had the honor of interviewing Ms. Robinson:
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGT–lFGDAA” autoplay=”yes”]
A little later on I reintroduced myself to the PR lady who had shunned me outside the tunnel. She then replied, ‘Oh my gosh Lauren we were e-mailing yesterday. Had I known it was you, it would have been no problem. Oh gosh, why didn’t you say anything?’ I simply said, ‘Well I’m glad I was able to get in. I’ll give you a card and send you the article once it’s published.’ It really didn’t matter whether she knew it was me or not.