The Newsletter for SUNY Downstate
University Hospital of Brooklyn
VOL. 2 ISSUE 2 FEBRUARY 2014
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Before the Brooklyn Nets, it was the Brooklyn Dodgers who defined sports in this borough – and one of the stars of the team was Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball in the 20th century. During the time that Mr. Robinson played for the Dodgers, the team won six pennants and a World Series championship, and he was named the National Leagues' most valuable player in 1949.
Jackie Robinson broke professional baseball's "color line" on April 15th, 1947, when he stepped out onto the playing field for the first time. This was not easy. He was heckled by players from other teams, and by some of the players on his own team. He was spate on, spiked, and received hate mail and death threats.
But through it all, he persevered, and his heart and courage paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement that Dr. King would lead in the 1960s.
On January 24, 2014 Downstate awarded its Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Leadership Award to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. The Foundation was created by Mr. Robinson's wife, Rachel Robinson, to carry on her husband's legacy – and does so by awarding college scholarships and intensive mentoring to minority students. Damian Travier, the Foundation's Director of Education and Leadership Development (and whose brother is a Downstate COM graduate), accepted the award on behalf of the Foundation.
Kevin L. Antoine, JD, assistant vice president, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, created the award to recognize individuals and organizations who seek to solve long-term societal challenges. This year, he said, the event also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington (see Downstate Times, Issue 18, October 2013).
Close to 300 students from local schools -- Parkside Preparatory Academy and PS 235 -- attended the ceremony, and Borough President Eric Adams and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent proclamations.
Jackie Robinson died very young, at age 53 from heart disease related to diabetes. "This is still a major problem in our community and individuals of color are still affected by this disease at very high rates," said Dr. Ian Taylor, dean of the College of Medicine. "That is why part of Downstate's commitment to diversity and inclusion is to help make sure that there is diversity in the health professions and that everyone in this community has access to good health care."