About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson

Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s conversation with Kostya Kennedy about his new book, True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson, which focuses on four transformative years in Robinson’s athletic and public life. Joining Kennedy in conversation will be Raymond Doswell, Vice President of Curatorial Services for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Before we begin, I’d like to tell you about two programs coming up soon on our YouTube channel.

On Thursday, April 14, at 1 p.m., Michael Meyer will discuss the story of Benjamin Franklin’s parting gift to the working-class people of Boston and Philadelphia—a deathbed bequest of 2,000 pounds to be lent out to tradesmen over the next two centuries to jump‑start their careers.

And on Tuesday, April 19, at 1 p.m., environmental historian Adam Sowards will be with us to talk about his new book, Making America's Public Lands, which synthesizes public lands history from the beginning of the republic to recent controversies.

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The featured document now on display in the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is a letter written by Second Lieutenant Jack R. Robinson. We know him as Jackie Robinson, the first Black man to play in major league baseball, but in 1944 he was in the Army and stationed at Camp Hood, Texas.

Robinson wrote the letter to the War Department after a bus driver had ordered him to move to the back of the military shuttle, leading to a charge of insubordination. In the years following this incident—as an athlete and as a businessman—Robinson continued to stand up for civil rights and human dignity.

Next fall, a new exhibit in the National Archives Museum, All American, will focus on the power of sports to construct, celebrate, spread, expand, and promote American national identity. Letters from Jackie Robinson will be included in the exhibit, and I hope you will be able to come and visit us.

Kostya Kennedy’s new biography of Jackie Robinson looks at four years in Robinson’s life: 1946, 1949, 1956, and 1972. Kennedy’s examination of these four years show us Robinson as a player, a father and husband, and a civil rights hero.

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Kostya Kennedy is a former assistant managing editor and senior writer at Sports Illustrated. He has been a staff writer at Newsday and has written for the New York Times, Time, and The New Yorker.  He is the author of the award-winning 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports as well as Pete Rose: An American Dilemma. Both were New York Times bestsellers and each received the CASEY Award as Best Baseball Book of its respective year.

Raymond Doswell is Vice President of Curatorial Services for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. He joined the museum’s staff in 1995 as its first curator. Doswell travels extensively as a public speaker on topics of baseball and African American history. Now as museum vice president, he manages exhibitions, archives, and educational programs.

Now let’s hear from Kostya Kennedy and Raymond Doswell. Thank you for joining us today.