Pupil’s essay evokes Jackie Robinson plaque at Victorville’s Civil Rights Memorial

A bronze plaque with Brooklyn Dodgers legend Jackie Robinson can now be seen among other honored heroes in the Civil Rights Memorial in front of Victorville City Hall.

Robinson broke the major league baseball color barrier in April 1947 when he donned a Dodgers uniform filled with the now-MLB retired number 42.

Bradley Brook Russell’s name is also featured on the plaque placed on the garden monument on Civic Drive in Victorville earlier this month.

City spokeswoman Sue Jones said the plaque’s design was inspired by Russell’s winning essay submitted during the city’s annual Civil Rights Memorial Essay Contest.

Plaques are usually given during the annual peace march and ceremony by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reveals who were not scheduled on MLK Day this year as part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Russell was introduced to the essay contest at his school, one of his teachers suggested writing about a person connected to something important to him, he told the daily press.

“I chose Jackie Robinson because I love baseball,” said Russell, a student at the Galileo School of Gifted and Talented Education. “Without Jackie, baseball would be very different and not the game I love today.”

Russell lives in Victorville with his parents Erick and Lisa and younger sister Kensley.

His favorite subjects at school are coding, math, and reading. He also loves “shooter and racing games” and wants to pursue a career in video game design.

“We are proud of our son, not just for his essay but for everything he has done,” Erick Russell told the Daily Press. “He wrote the essay 100% himself. He asked us basic questions, but he did all the work. “

Bradley Russell, a Los Angeles Angels fan, said he knew little about Robinson until he began researching the Hall of Fame player, whose career on the field with the Dodgers spanned 10 seasons.

While researching for the essay, Russell said he found out that Robinson started playing professional baseball when he signed a contract for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League in 1945.

Since Moses Fleetwood Walker in 1884, who, according to the MLB, played for the Toledo Blue Stockings for one season, no black had played in the big leagues.

In the mid-1940s, Dodger Club President and General Manager Branch Rickey Robinson announced that he had a place on his team, Russell wrote.

Bradley Brook Russell poses next to the Jackie Robinson plaque at the Victorville Civil Rights Memorial.  Russell's winning essay inspired the plaque of the late Brooklyn Dodgers legend.

The story goes that Rickey Robinson said he signed him to break the color barrier because of his courage, adding that he would face resistance even from those who would fight him.

Robinson asked, “You want a player who has the guts to fight back?”

Rickey replied, “No. I want a player who has the courage not to fight back, ”to whom Robinson said,“ Give me a uniform. Give me a number on my back and I’ll give you the courage. “

Robinson’s decision to play for Rickey and the Dodgers was hated by fans and gamers alike. He also endured many threats in his life, wrote Russell.

“He stood there and took it like a man,” wrote Russell. “Without him, baseball would have been different than we can imagine. Great players like Albert Pujols, Josh Gibson, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, Larry Doby and Hank Aaron would never have made a major league baseball debut. “

Robinson broke the color barrier and “started a revolution that will last until the end of time,” wrote Russell.

“Racism may be a sensitive issue right now, but we all fight it like Jackie Robinson,” wrote Russell. “See how professional sports teams are making changes today to fight racism.”

Russell said an example of fighting racism in the NBA is among players who have replaced their names on their jerseys with words like “equality”, “peace” and “justice”.

Some sports teams even change their names so they aren’t offensive, he said.

“I feel that Jackie Robinson should be honored for his great deeds such as breaking the color barrier by becoming the first African American to play major league baseball,” he wrote.

“He realized that he would be influencing more than just himself.”

Russell said honoring Robinson was important because he helped end segregation in the big leagues and showed America that different races can play together and cheer each other on.

“Today it is still important to recognize that all life is important,” wrote Russell. “With this we honor him and each other.”

Other plaques at the Victorville Memorial include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist Asa Philip Randolph, social reformer Frederick Douglass, union leader Cesar Chavez, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and suffragist Lucy Burns.

Each plaque is based on successful essays from previous years.

The City of Victorville Community Services Advisory Committee evaluates student essays based on overall content, clarity of expression, research, and originality.

The Inland Empire Health Plan sponsored the bronze plaque in honor of Jackie Robinson, according to the city.

Russell’s essay can be viewed online at www.Victorvilleca.Gov.

Daily press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.

Comments are closed.