Jackie Robinson painting on display at Negro League Museum

It’s Jackie Robinson Day, and the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City was showing a painting titled “Grace” by artist Dave Hobrecht. It shows the civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr., having dinner with Robinson and his Dodgers teammates Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe. The painting is on display in the museum as part of the Barrier Breakers exhibition.

The powerful artwork was inspired by a story told by Newcombe, who remembered King telling them they were the pioneers of the civil rights movement. Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947, while Campanella and Newcombe joined Robinson before the end of the decade, showing that African Americans can play the game of baseball with passion and grace.

“Jackie, Roy and Don were proud to have the greatest civil rights leader in this country’s history say to them, ‘I couldn’t have done what you did [in baseball]”Said Kendrick.

The painting was on the news recently after being nearly destroyed when sent to the NLBM for Jackie Robinson Day.

“It was badly damaged in the process of shipping the painting from California to the museum,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the NLBM. “The frame was in ruins and the piece itself was badly damaged.”

But in the true spirit of the Negro League, the damaged artwork was repaired in time so that it could be made available to the public. The painting has a new frame owned by Sean Smith, the Art & Frame Warehouse in Kansas City. Hobrecht recently came to Kansas City and did some post-processing on the painting.

“I think there is this hidden message called ‘unbreakable spirit’,” said Kendrick. “The painting is broken, but not our mind. That’s a perfect metaphor for the Negro leagues. You can’t break our minds. Whatever you get in our way, you won’t kill our love for this game. I think that was my attitude [with the painting]. ”

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