Jackie Robinson's Legacy Lives on in DC 75 Years After His Dodgers Debut

D.C’s National Youth Academy is training kids to be scholar athletes on and off the field

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Three-quarters of a century ago, baseball legend Jackie Robinson made history by breaking baseball’s racist color barrier and joining the Brooklyn Dodgers.

At the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, Robinson’s legacy lives on.

Harry Thomas, head of the Hustle program at the academy says participants, called “scholar athlete," are reminded of Robinson’s example every day.

“One of the big things we like to do at the academy is not just build a baseball culture, but a character culture as well,” he said.

"Our kids can see that, even from watching movies like '42' and everything, the kids can really see how much he really suffered to really strive to be in a position where he is," Thomas added.

The academy itself is something of a barrier breaker east of the Anacostia River, bridging the chasm that exists in the District.

“I’m from Northeast D.C. myself, and I never had anything like this growing up,” Thomas said.

Nick Sussman, director of sports programs, said the academy is making up for lost time after baseball was absent from D.C. for years. They're making up for lost time and the field, among the best in the city, send a message.

“It lets kids know that this is special," he said.

“The most satisfying thing for me has been watching children who haven’t had much experience with baseball, maybe none, watching them fall in love with the game," Sussman added.

Scholar athletes have been able to learn about the front office as well as the dugout. 

Off the diamond, time is spent among giants of the game, giving constant reminders of the debt they owe, regardless of race and gender, to a baseball legend who cleared the way for them.

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