Dave Roberts, Sharon Robinson honored at MLK celebration
By Zach Moore
Martin Luther King Jr. died more than 50 years ago, but civil rights are still not guaranteed. Nonetheless, the Martin Luther King Jr. Brotherhood Foundation continues to celebrate the legacy of its namesake and those who follow in his footsteps.
On Jan. 15, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation honored via Zoom Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Jackie Robinson’s daughter, Sharon Robinson, for their continued efforts in fighting for social justice.
Roberts is heading into his sixth season as the Dodgers’ manager — the first minority to helm the team. He won the National League Manager of the Year in 2016 and is coming off the organization’s first World Series title since 1988.
He was honored with the Brotherhood Award for his continued involvement in community programs and social activism.
This past season, the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants boycotted their Aug. 26 matchup due to the country’s uprising. Roberts emphasized how he was so proud of his team for standing up and refusing to be silent about U.S. issues.
“This was such a difficult year for all of us,” Roberts said. “One of the proudest moments I had this year was the game we protested in San Francisco. To see (our players) stand up and be transparent, authentic, vulnerable and share their thoughts, fears and concerns…to say what is right not only for baseball, but for our country.”
In receiving the award, Roberts gave his team the credit.
“This (award) says my name, but this is a team award,” Roberts said. “I am proud of this organization for what we have done on the field, but I am doubly more proud of what we have done off the field.”
Players like Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and Kenley Jansen were fundamental to the Dodgers’ efforts to speak up for the minority communities, many of which are located in the Los Angeles area.
Honored alongside Roberts was Sharon Robinson, who was presented with the Human Dignity Award for her continued efforts in and around her community.
Robinson serves as vice chair of the Jackie Robinson Foundation and continues to work with Major League Baseball and its Breaking Barriers program, both of which provide opportunities for the minority youth in America to achieve grants along with leadership development and mentorship.
Robinson reflected on attending the 1963 March on Washington and her father’s impact on the family.
“We were strong through the good and the hard times,” Robinson said. “I grew up with my dad as an activist. Our dining room table was a discussion point for the civil rights movement. He was always this man of compassion and commitment, and he shared that with mom.”
While the baseball legend was heavily involved with the Civil Rights Movement, Robinson called her father her role model.
“When I look back through my childhood, my vision for life always included children,” Robinson said.
She uses that vision through her work as a former teacher at several prestigious universities including Yale and Howard, as the MLB’s vice president of educational programs, as an adolescent health specialist and through her memoir, “Child of a Dream.”
“There was so much excitement,” Robinson said about meeting MLK for the first time. “When we were introduced to him, he was so kind to us as children. He wanted to know more about us. He taught us about peace, taught us about freedom and made us want to work toward it.”