Day in History 24 October – Jackie Robinson – Gene Roddenberry – Rosa Parks

On this day in 1972, Baseball Hall of Famer, a man of courage, the man who broke baseball’s color line, Jackie Robinson died in Stamford, Connecticut at the age of 53.  Born Jack Roosevelt Robinson on 31 January 1919 in Cairo, Georgia.  He made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.  World Series Champion 1955, recipient of the inaugural MLB Rookie of the Year Award, six-time All-Star, National League MVP 1949, posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.  A hero for all people.  I own a number 42 replica Dodger’s jersey.  The Final Footprint –  Robinson is interred in the Robinson Family Private Estate in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Robinson Estate

The estate is marked by a large upright granite marker inscribed with ROBINSON and this quote from him; “A LIFE IS NOT IMPORTANT EXCEPT IN THE IMPACT IT HAS ON OTHER LIVES.”  He is interred between his mother-in-law and his son, Jackie Jr.  Other notable final footprints at Cypress Hills; Eubie Blake and Mae West.

Gene_roddenberry_1976On this day in 1991 United States Army Air Forces veteran, screenwriter, producer, futurist, Gene Roddenberry died from cardiopulmonary arrest in Santa Monica, California at the age of 70.  Born Eugene Wesley Roddenberry on 19 August 1921 in El Paso, Texas.  Perhaps best known for creating the original Star Trek television series and thus the Star Trek science fiction franchise.  In 1964, Roddenberry created Star Trek, which premiered in 1966 and ran for three seasons before being canceled.  Syndication of Star Trek led to increasing popularity, and Roddenberry continued to create, produce and consult on the Star Trek films and the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation until his death.  In 1985 he became the first TV writer with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and he was later inducted by both the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame.  The Star Trek franchise created has produced story material for almost five decades; resulting in six television series consisting of 726 episodes, and twelve feature films, so far.  Additionally, the popularity of the Star Trek universe and films inspired the parody/homage/cult film Galaxy Quest in 1999, as well as many books, video games and fan films set in the various “eras” of the Star Trek universe.  Roddenberry married Eileen Rexroat (1942 – 1969 divorce).  During the 1960s, Roddenberry reportedly had affairs with Nichelle Nichols (who played Lt. Uhura on the original series) and Majel Barrett (who played Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series, Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the voice of most onboard computer interfaces throughout the series).  Roddenberry married Barrett in Japan in a traditional Shinto ceremony on 6 August 1969.  They remained married until his death.  The Final Footprint – Roddenberry was cremated.  After his death, Star Trek: The Next Generation aired a two-part episode of season five, called “Unification”, which featured a dedication to Roddenberry.  In 1992, a portion of Roddenberry’s ashes flew and returned to earth on the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-52.  On 21 April 21 1997, a Celestis spacecraft — carrying portions of the cremated remains of Roddenberry, of Timothy Leary and of 22 other individuals — was launched into Earth orbit aboard a Pegasus XL rocket from near the Canary Islands.  On 20 May 2002, the spacecraft’s orbit deteriorated and it disintegrated in the atmosphere.  Another flight to launch more of his ashes into deep space along with those of Barrett, who died in 2008, is planned for launch at a late date.

RosaparksOn this day in 2005, civil rights activist, “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”, Rosa Parks died in her apartment on the east side of Detroit at the age of 92.  Born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, on 4 February 4 1913.  On 1 December 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.  Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement.  She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.  Parks organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., a new minister in town who gained national prominence in the civil rights movement.  Parks received national recognition, including the NAACP’s 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.  The Final Footprint – City officials in Montgomery and Detroit announced on 27 October 2005, that the front seats of their city buses would be reserved with black ribbons in honor of Parks until her funeral.  Parks’ casket was flown to Montgomery and taken in a horse-drawn hearse to the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, where she lay in repose at the altar on 29 October 2005, dressed in the uniform of a church deaconess.  A memorial service was held there the following morning.  One of the speakers, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said that if it had not been for Parks, she would probably have never become the Secretary of State.  In the evening the casket was transported to Washington, D.C. and transported by a bus similar to the one in which she made her protest, to lie in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.  Since the founding in 1852 of the practice of lying in state in the rotunda, Parks was the 31st person, the first American who had not been a U.S. government official, and the second private person (after the French planner Pierre L’Enfant) to be honored in this way.  She was the first woman and the second black person to lie in state in the Capitol.  An estimated 50,000 people viewed the casket there, and the event was broadcast on television on October 31, 2005.  A memorial service was held that afternoon at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC.  With her body and casket returned to Detroit, for two days, Parks lay in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.  Her funeral service was seven hours long and was held on 2 November 2005, at the Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit.  After the service, an honor guard from the Michigan National Guard laid the U.S. flag over the casket and carried it to a horse-drawn hearse, which was intended to carry it, in daylight, to the cemetery.  As the hearse passed the thousands of people who were viewing the procession, many clapped and cheered loudly and released white balloons.  Parks was entombed between her husband and mother at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery in the chapel’s mausoleum.  The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel in her honor.  When Parks died, her fame was such that ESPN noted her death on the “Bottom Line,” its on-screen ticker, on all of its networks.  Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in the U.S. states of California and Ohio.

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