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Keesler celebrates Black History Month with Jackie Robinson movie showing

  • Published
  • By Capt. David J. Murphy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The movie, 42, a story of Jackie Robinson’s rise to fame in Major League Baseball, was shown to a nearly packed house at the Welch Theater Feb. 21 as part of the Black History Month celebration taking place throughout the month here.

This was the sixth of eight planned events taking place throughout the month of February to celebrate Black History Month and the second movie shown during the month to recognize the achievements of notable African Americans. The first movie was Red Tails, which was shown on Feb. 7 and featured appearances by members of the Lawrence E. Roberts Chapter, Tuskegee Airmen Inc.

Besides featuring the story of achievement in the face of adversity, the film was chosen because of Keesler’s close proximity and partnership with local minor league baseball team, the Biloxi Shuckers.

“We wanted to celebrate Black History Month through film, but we also wanted to educate, and we wanted to choose something that was locally affiliated,” said Suhajda Pringle, 335th Training Squadron curriculum developer. “We have our team here, the Shuckers, so we just tied it all into that.”

The connection to the Shuckers was reinforced by the appearance for Barry Lyons, Shuckers ambassador, who appeared at the event and gave opening remarks before the film.

“I was lucky enough to live out my dream of being a professional baseball player,” said Lyons, “I played 14 years professionally, seven years in the major leagues with the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers…the Los Angeles Angels and finally with the Chicago White Sox.”

Lyons spoke of the importance Jackie Robinson and his role in changing the world.

“Jackie was born 100 years ago, 1919, but his legacy will last generations upon generations upon generations with what he’s done for this human race, for this country, for all people,” said Lyons. “I honor him, we honor him…his number, 42, is painted on the outfield wall at MGM Park…and in every ballpark across the country, 42, you can miss it, and if there’s a man that deserve that, it’s him.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andre Johnson, 338th Training Squadron commander, echoed this sentiment and what he felt Airmen should learn from Robinson’s experience.

“I think the Airmen should take away the fact that we have progressed as a people, as a nation, and everything starts with a single movement,” said Johnson. “While being different is not easy, when it’s for the right reason, [being different] can change even a nation.”

The two remaining Black History Month events in February include a roundtable forum at the Welch Theater from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a closeout celebration at the Dragon’s Lair in the Bay Breeze Events Center immediately following the monthly promotion ceremony Feb. 28.
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