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For the past 50 years, Rachel Robinson has kept her husband's legacy alive. The foundation she founded provides college scholarships and leadership training. Along with her husband, who was the first African American to play baseball in the modern era, she was a pioneer in the medical field. Rachel obtained a master's degree in nursing from New York University. She was an assistant professor of nursing at Yale University.

In honor of her 100th birthday on July 19, David Robinson, the youngest of Rachel andJackie's three children, who manages a coffee cooperative in Africa and is a director on the board of theJackie Robinson Foundation, reflected on what she instilled in him and her.

I was a knight at King Arthur's Round Table when I was a child. It was always about the drama of the situation. The knights would raise their swords to show their support for justice.

She wanted her children to have a sense of strength and she created an imaginary dynamic in her stories. Because of discrimination in the 1950s, it took my mother nearly a year to find a place to live for our family in Connecticut.

She would wait for The New York Times every Sunday to find out that our family wasn't the right fit for a certain neighborhood or that the house was no longer on the market. When the Bridgeport Herald published an interview with my mother as part of a series on housing discrimination, residents in Connecticut invited our family to meet with real estate agents. We moved to Stamford in 1954. Two seasons away from retirement, my father was in his eighth year of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers when I was born. Sharon was four years old at the time. I was young at that time.

I was raised in Connecticut in a semi-rural area. Our home was built on a 6-acre piece of land and surrounded by three sides of forest. There was a lake about 50 yards from our house. Beyond the forest there was a water source. I could be gone from morning until afternoon when I was 7 or 8. In the summer, we did that. It was permissible for me to spend a lot of time in the woods by myself. My parents believed in allowing me to learn. A man of few words, my father was a leader who taught by his actions. My mother gave more verbal explanations.

Inside the Robinson family's Stamford home, just one trophy room wall was dedicated to baseball mementos and plaques. Jackie's awards related to social justice and community work lined the others. AP Photo/Harry Harris

She was a student of Psychiatry and went back to school to get her nurse's license. We had an extensive library on psychological development, human development and human conditions, which she wanted to learn more about. I couldn't read the books, but the number of books on those subjects gave me a sense that there was more to the world than I thought.

We were taken to the theater. I watched "Fiddler on the Roof" with Zero Mostel and "Man of La Mancha" with Sammy Davis Jr. There was a system in the living room. There was a 6 foot cabinet with records on top. Two and a half by two was how big the speaker was. Growing up with her music gave me a sense of vocabulary that was beyond what I could say. I didn't know how to cry at operas. My mother taught me this.

Classical music and opera are more than musicals. It's touching. Classical music is a collection of wind instruments. The sound elements coming together is the kind of complexity you find in life. You eat and breathe but you also think and feel. My mother's love for music makes her understand the complexity of life.

Psychiatry is all about healing and growth. She has a sense of hope and optimism. A belief in social and human evolution was the basis of her educational foundation.

Growing up in Stamford, Connecticut, David recalls how his parents gave their youngest child the freedom to explore, whether it was on their six-acre property surrounded by forest or, as he was older, across the African continent. Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

The era involved social activism and justice. The bread and butter was what we breathed in. It wasn't a day without a discussion of social issues. Our parents kept a balanced picture at the table. They wanted to make people feel better. The Freedom Riders faced challenges going down by the busload to fight segregation in the South. The first annual afternoon of jazz was hosted by my parents in 1963, to raise money for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. There was a person who was present. Duke Ellington was also a part of it. Dr. King came to our house. It was your involvement in social development that made you who you are today. We lived that way and who we were.

Emotions ranged from anger to frustration. There is nothing you can say about the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church and the deaths of four little girls.

When I was sent to an all-white school, my mother was fully aware of what she was doing. I was the only black student in the school. Jack and Rachel Robinson put their child into an environment where those issues would be raised because they were critically involved in it every day.


David learned a lot from his dad.

When my father played baseball, no one was getting too rich or comfortable. My father didn't make a lot of money. The time was not measured by that. My father was the first black vice president of a major American corporation when he became the vice president of personnel at Chock full o' Nuts. I don't know how different my life would be without my family. My mother's mother was a slave and my grandmother was a sharecropper. My grandfather was a soldier in World War I who was threatened with court martial for fraternizing with white French citizens. After being gassed in the war, his life was shortened. He gave my mother a sense of self that she wanted to pass on to her kids.

My mother wanted her children to have a solid foundation of inner strength, even if it was discovered through travel.

Rachel graduated with a Master's degree in psychiatric nursing from New York University in 1961. A mother of three at the time, she would often start her studies at 3 a.m., after everyone in her family had gone to bed. Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

In 1967, I came to Tanzania with my mom. I was between the ages of 15 and 16 at that time. She played a huge role in my life because I have spent most of my life here. We were in Italy and Spain with my mom and dad. When my father went back to work after playing in a golf tournament in Spain, my mother and I went on a tour of Africa, visiting Ethiopia, Uganda, and other places. The trip had a significant impact on my life.

Without a strong Pan-African bend or political agenda, she introduced me to globalization and global dynamics. This is the world, that's what it was. I don't think she left the US before she was in her 30s or 40s, but this was her sense of parenting.

She allowed for a complete and comfortable experience. She used to count the money at night to make sure we were covered. My mother is the person who wanted to show the vision and make sure the resources were there.

She is an intelligent woman who understands herself in the environment. She believed that her children and grandchildren would inherit the world she had seen. She wanted them to be aware of it.

Rachel has preserved the legacy of Jackie, who died at the age of 53, for the past 50 years. In 1973, she founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides scholarship and leadership opportunities for college students. Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

When my father integrated baseball in 1947, it took discrimination, segregation, the oppression of African Americans out of the backwater and put it on our national pastime, a sport in which a majority of Americans were fanatic about. It made the level of attention higher. He was part of the movement to change the nation over the next 30 years.

The preservation of my mother's legacy is important for our family and the African American community. Being the son of a black man is a blessing. The things that were important were put in perspective. We're missing the foundation on which we can build to become an even better place if we don't remember when we made leaps into becoming a better society in the 1940's and '50s.

My father couldn't have done it alone, and my mother couldn't have done it with anyone else. They met when they were younger. Two young people at UCLA met and fell in love, and that was all that mattered. Thereafter, the historic story continued to evolve. It's a love story at its core.

You could see the beginnings of my mother as an organized person when my father died. She became president of the construction company after he died. The meetings that began the development of the foundation were chaired by her.

The foundation hasn't just given money. Counselors, mentors, a family and community environment are provided by it. The human interactions that are critical to supporting the financial resources or educational resources that the foundation makes available came from her education and work experience.

When I decided not to return to school for a second year, I moved to Africa. Our family and neighbors established a coffee cooperative in 1995.

My mother has traveled more than a dozen times to see her son and grandsons.

In 2007, Rachel became the first woman and non-player to receive the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award, 60 years after her husband became the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era. Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

In the last two years, we have welcomed close to 50 scholars from the Rachel Robinson International fellowship program. She brought me to Africa when I was a teenager, but she also created a program for the graduates of the foundation to have that vision of a world.

There is progress in multiple generations. The world has suffered thousands of years of oppressive and brutal behavior as a result of the enslavement of African Americans. Multiple generations will need to work with a philosophy in order to change. At the end of the day, it's about human and social development, and these are the things that will make our passing more meaningful.

Being a part of the Robinson family is a blessing. I have a lot of children. I can see it in all of them because of their contact with their grandmother and their knowledge of their grandfather, as well as what their mother and father have done. This is what I believe in and what I hope for.