About 30 St. John students gathered in the Elaine I. Sprauve Library for story hour to hear Sharon Robinson, daughter of Hall of Fame baseball player Jackie Robinson, tell about her and her father’s lives.
Robinson has written six books including children’s literature and even a romance novel. But the biography of her father titled
“Promises to Keep” was the focus for most of the afternoon.
“By writing a biography about my father, I was able to write about what was happening in America,” said Robinson. “You are part of everything that happens in the world around you.”
The book recounts the story of Robinson’s father’s life, from his early days in Georgia to his college years in California, where he lettered in four sports.
Intimate Pictures, Letters
Through family pictures and letters, Robinson told the story of how her father broke the color barrier in baseball by signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 at the age of 26.
“I had to tell the love story between my mother and father, so I asked my mom — who kept everything — if I could read the letters my dad sent her and the letter she wrote him,” said Robinson. “All the letters start with ‘Darling.’ That gave me a sense of how romantic my father was and how important my mother was to him.”
Robinson also displayed threatening letters sent to her father from racists who were opposed to him playing in Major League Baseball.
“You can see the stress and pressure that was on my father,” said Robinson. “He had to play really great baseball. He was changing something really big, in baseball and in America.”
“He knew there were people who wanted to kill him,” she added.
Jackie Robinson won the hearts of Americans and was voted Rookie of the Year in 1947. He continued to dominate the sport and eventually beat the New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series.
After retiring from baseball in 1956, Jackie Robinson continued to work for change in America, supporting Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.
Robinson still has ties with Major League Baseball, working as an educational consultant for the league. She travels to schools across the country and discusses overcoming obstacles to students in grades fourth through sixth.
“Barriers are a part of everyone’s lives,” said Robinson. “We get stronger when we overcome obstacles.”
Every year Robinson oversees a national essay contest in which students write about obstacles they are working through in their own lives, the author explained.
Robinson, who used to call St. Croix home, also read an excerpt from one of her children’s novels titled “Safe at Home.”
Students lined up to have Robinson sign their copies of her book “Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By.”
The author’s next project will be a young adult novel about the Salem Witch Trials, Robinson explained.