The Springfield College Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement, in connection with WGBY presented an advanced screening of the documentary about hall of fame baseball player and civil rights icon Jackie Robinson on Thursday, April 7, in the Fuller Arts Center.
Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, the film recaps the life and baseball career of Robinson, who famously broke the color line in Major League Baseball in 1947. Springfield College was selected as one of a few locations in the country chosen for the pre-screening, which is scheduled to premiere nationally on PBS on the nights of April 11 and 12.
The event re-connected Robinson with Springfield College, and brought back memories of an historic event that occurred on campus with the civil rights icon. On August 16, 1962, not even a month after getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Robinson was the keynote speaker for an event honoring the 100th birthday of Amos Alonzo Stagg at Springfield College. During the event, one of the most famous photos of Robinson was taken, a photo he considered his favorite outside of a baseball context.
The photo was taken by a photographer named Spero Coulacos, who noticed that whenever Robinson mentioned the word "kids," he seemed to light with an added intensity. Coulacos, a recent Springfield graduate at the time ('59), would later write:
"Suddenly, with deliberate emphasis, word-at-a-time, he started to say--'We-have-a-moral-duty-to-look-out-for-' (This was it. I raised my camera, flash off and high to the right} our-kids.' Click! Right in the middle of the word kids. The flash froze for a split second on Robinson's face--I had it! I had it on film--his life's struggle, his passion, his spirit, his soul. I never took another shot all evening. I just wanted to get into the darkroom. After developing the film, I held the wet negative up to the light. Euphoria! Never again would I experience a moment like that in a darkroom."