Characterizing Jackie and Mack Robinson as "rebels against racism," Mayor Chris Holden on Thursday helped unveil busts of the two Pasadena natives in a ceremony at City Hall.
The two nine-foot bronze busts were created by the artistic team of Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter and John Outterbridge. The project was led by the Robinson Memorial Foundation, which solicited $325,000 in donations, including $100,000 from the city.
The Robinson brothers grew up in Pasadena in the 1920s and started on athletic teams for John Muir High School and Pasadena City College. Mack Robinson, who was hospitalized and unable to attend the ceremony, was known for his silver medal-winning performance in the 200-meter dash at the 1936 Olympics. The late Jackie Robinson achieved fame for breaking the color barrier in baseball. Both men were praised Thursday as leaders in the fight for civil rights.
Sam Mardian, 78, of Phoenix, a friend of Jackie Robinson since the fourth grade, said the busts are a fitting tribute.
"Jackie Robinson was one of the greatest athletes of all time, but his contributions went well beyond athletics," Mardian said. "He helped make civil rights and the work of Martin Luther King possible."
Baseball great Don Newcombe said the memorial is overdue but welcome.
"This helps me believe that people can make good things happen. . . . With this [memorial] it feels like the city is making amends for past mistakes," he said.