Jackie Roosevelt Robinson. A figure who has greatly inspired the generation of today to live up to
their potential. In Pasadena, California, you see his monuments almost everywhere. From Robinson park and Rec Center to City Hall, John Muir High School to Pasadena City College, Robinson has definitely earned more than just a name for himself. But even after The 4.2-mile stretch of the 210 from Gould Avenue to Orange Grove Boulevard was renamed the “Jackie Robinson Memorial Highway,” there are still a few spectators who still aren’t satisfied. I mean, it’s cool having a portion of a freeway named after you. But, that was something that could’ve came after Robinson Blvd.
After watching the movie “42” about the life & career of Jackie Robinson, Mistah Wilson was struck with inspiration and soon thereafter had a vision of seeing Robinson Blvd in real life. After ample research and thinking it through, Mistah Wilson soon found out that there was no major thoroughfare named after Robinson. Wilson felt as though Robinson should have at least one major thoroughfare honoring his legacy. So, he started the “Robinson Boulevard Initiative”, an initiative to ultimately change Washington Blvd in Pasadena, CA as we know it to the nation’s first ever (Jackie or Mack) Robinson Boulevard.
Before we get into the specifics, let us remind you that Jackie Robinson was a true product of Pasadena, California. Although he was born in Cairo, Georgia, Robinson attended 3 Pasadena educational institutions and soared as an athlete in multiple sports, earning letterman in varsity ranks. By the time he was approached by Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers at the time, Robinson already demonstrated his capacity for cultural diversity by attending public school and playing sports at UCLA.
To forward this initiative, Mistah Wilson organized an ambitious 42mile walk effort demonstrating Love, Peace, & Unity in honor of the late great Jackie Robinson. The walk took place on January 31st, 2015, from East Pasadena to Leimert Park on a tailored route. This was Wilson’s first step in pushing the initiative. And he knew he was going to be in it for the long haul. Mistah Wilson also emailed the Mayor’s office to share his ideals about Robinson Blvd. Bill Bogaard, former Mayor of Pasadena, promptly replied with statistics detailing the Pasadena community’s effort to change
Hammond Street to Robinson Street. The report showed how the run was short lived and that it failed. Most people said no and the others were not home to comment. There was simply not enough homeowners who voted yes. Even though the report wasn’t promising, Wilson was still encouraged. “Robinson deserves a major thoroughfare, just like Martin Luther King. I feel his character and image was just as significant,” explains Mistah Wilson. “And what better place to start than Pasadena, California?”
Here’s the deal. The Robinson Boulevard Initiative is meant to ultimately change Washington Blvd in Pasadena, CA as we know it to the nation’s first ever (Jackie or Mack) Robinson Boulevard. Below is a list of reasons why Jackie Robinson deserves a street named in his honor and why Washington Blvd in Pasadena is being targeted for the historic name change:
- This is a community initiative that gives us a positive, progressive African American movement. If Jackie Robinson could inspire us 42 years after passing to embark on such a mission, who knows what impact he can have on future generations.
- Jackie Robinson’s character stood for love, peace, unity, hard work, and dedication. Perfect for the direction we should go as a community.
- Jackie Robinson was culturally unbiased. He embraced people of different ethnic backgrounds and didn’t allow racism to be a determining factor of his life and story.
- It’s no secret that Jackie Robinson contributed to the Civil Rights movement of the mid-1900’s. He fulfilled the dream of Martin Luther King by defeating social/racial barriers and being the first African American professional athlete to successfully break through.
- Being the first African American baseball player in the major leagues, the first Afro-American inducted in the MLB Hall of Fame, and having his number “42” retired across all teams makes Jackie Robinson worthy of being honored by a major street in Pasadena, California.
- Jackie Robinson inspired the entire team as a rookie and made his teammates better.
- The fact that Jackie Robinson graduated from college represents the power of an education. This is a good quality message we want our youth to be influenced by.
- With his education, Jackie Robinson was also an American business man.
- Jackie Robinson received an honorable discharge from the United States military.
- Jackie Robinson starred in his own movie!
- Not to discredit George Washington for all the great things he’s done for the USA, but he has no immediate relevance to the City of Pasadena as Jackie Robinson does.
- There is a Washington Blvd 10 miles and several different directions. The change wouldn’t be drastic.
- Because we feel Robinson deserves a major thoroughfare, it makes sense to target Washington Blvd because surrounding streets like Orange Grove, Fair Oaks, or even Woodbury Rd. are already unique to the City of Pasadena. Furthermore, most North/South bound streets touch different cities like Alhambra and South Pasadena. We want to avoid this so that we may not be presented with additional challenges during the process.
- Because Jackie Robinson stood for cultural diversity justifies why Robinson Boulevard should be able to run through the East Washington Village, an Armenian-American community.
- No one in the world living today took part in the actual naming of Washington Blvd. in Pasadena, CA.
For more information regarding the Robinson Boulevard Initiative can be found online at the official petition here. If you’d like to support or be part of the discussion, please sign the petition and contact ThaWilsonBlock Magazine here.