LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The City Council celebrated the 12th annual Jackie Robinson Day in Los Angeles today, three days before the 66th anniversary of his breaking baseball's color line.
A bio-pic on Robinson, "42," also opened this week.
"There's a lot of energy out here because of the movie that's out, but the energy has been here all along," Councilman Ed Reyes said.
Former Los Angeles Dodger outfielders Tommy Davis and Lou Johnson, members of Robinson's family, John Young, founder of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, and representatives of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which provides four-year college scholarships to disadvantaged students of color, received a proclamation from Councilman Tom LaBonge at today's City Council meeting.
"He brought millions of us together in a new friendship and understanding," Russell said.
On April 15, 1947, Robinson -- who was raised in Pasadena and attended John Muir High School, Pasadena City College and UCLA -- became the first Black man to play in the major leagues since the 1880s.
He went hitless in four at-bats but scored what proved to be the winning run in the Brooklyn Dodgers' 5-3 victory over the Boston Braves in front of a crowd of 25,623 at Ebbets Field.
Robinson played his entire major league career with Brooklyn, helping lead the team to six National League championships during his 10 seasons, and, in 1955, their only World Series championship.
Robinson's integration into Major League Baseball is credited with helping change Americans' attitudes toward Blacks and being a catalyst for later civil rights advances.
Davis said he was inspired to join the Dodgers instead of the Yankees when he got a phone call from Robinson, whom he watched struggle to break barriers.
"In six years, when he first came [to Brooklyn], his hair was all black. He came to my junior high school in 1953 and his hair was totally white," Davis said. "He went through a lot of stress. He hung on. He was probably the only person who could have gone through that."
The Los Angeles Dodgers will join all of Major League Baseball in commemorating Jackie Robinson Day at Monday's game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium, with Robinson's widow, Rachel, his daughter, Sharon, and son, David, scheduled to be in attendance.