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New Jackie Robinson memorial revealed after old one defaced

Video from WALB
Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 7:34 PM EST
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball 75 years ago.

But last year, a historical marker in his name was shot at and vandalized. There are still no suspects in this case.

Todd Groce, the president of the Georgia Historical Society, said they created the Civil Rights Trail to remember the fight for equality, — a fight that Jackie Robinson was on the front lines of.

The marker is a piece of the story to remember Robinson’s legacy and it started in Cairo.

“It represents moving forward. It represents opening doors that were closed for African-Americans, people of color,” said Groce. “To make sure that the story of this not only remarkable baseball player but a courageous Civil Rights leader will continue to be here and that his story will continue to be told to the public.”

Dr. Linda Walden, Robinson’s cousin, wants his legacy to continue to happen in Cairo.
Dr. Linda Walden, Robinson’s cousin, wants his legacy to continue to happen in Cairo.(WALB)

Robinson was born in Cairo in 1919 but only spent his first 18 months here. Still, he has left a noticeable imprint on the town.

“I’ve heard of Jackie Robinson all of my life. He was one of our heroes during the day of the time that I was growing up,” said Ann Wooten, who has lived in Cairo all her life.

Dr. Linda Walden, Robinson’s cousin, wants his legacy to continue to happen in Cairo.

Walden said in the late 90s, she was surprised that many of the youth had no idea who Robinson was.

Since then, she has fought to preserve his legacy.

Walden said Robinson’s biggest imprint was off the baseball field in the Civil Rights movement.

“This community has produced great people. Jackie was one of them. Don’t be ashamed of where you come from because so many young people, they live in small towns. People ask where are you from and they say Albany or Atlanta, no you’re from Cairo, Georgia,” Walden said.

Walden said she tells young men without father figures that they can overcome it. She uses Robinson as the model. As for the monument, she is upset but wants to move forward.

“To me, for someone to do such an egregious thing, I just pray for them and put it in God’s hands,” Walden said.

Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor reflects on Robinson's impact on the Syrup City.
Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor reflects on Robinson's impact on the Syrup City. (WALB)

Robinson’s life even inspired Cairo Mayor Booker Gainor, the Syrup City’s first Black mayor.

“So like Jackie himself and set out to break a barrier in baseball. Not looking to say we’re going to do this for Black people. He was looking to make the game better for all,” Gainor said.

When Gainor worked for the Major Leagues in 2011, many knew Robinson was from the rural town of Cairo. That surprised him.

“It brought me great joy that I could say ‘I’m from Cairo, Georgia’ and Major League employees and staff could finish my sentence and say ‘home of Jackie Robinson,’” Gainor said.

Plans are for the old marker to be placed in the Negro Leagues’ Museum of Baseball this April.

Also in April, the World Series Trophy will be brought to Cairo to celebrate Robinson’s legacy.

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