To mark the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, Annakin Slayd
leads a series of sessions on the baseball legend at a number of schools across Montreal.
ANNAKIN SLAYD's JACKIE ROBINSON School Tour
Annakin Slayd is the stage name for Andrew Farrar, who grew up in Chomedey and graduated from Western Laval High School in 1995. In 2011 he worked with the Quebec English School Boards Association on their “Go Publique” marketing campaign, producing, directing and starring in a music video aimed at boosting enrolment.
At each school Slayd will make a three-part presentation of about 50 minutes highlighted by a screening of the PBS Mountainview piece “Jackie Robinson’s Montreal Connection” and his hit video with singer Leesa Mackey. Using pictures and video about Jackie Robinson and his accomplishments in the world of baseball and through the Civil rights Movement, Slayd will expand with an examination of his time in Montreal and the legacy that has endured in our city, as well as how the tradition of embracing other athletes considered outcasts such as John Carlos and Michael Sam is recognized around the sports world. In addition, Slayd will provide a brief analysis of the recent trade of PK Subban, the impact it had on our community and the possible legacy he will leave in the NHL, in spite of being a minority in a sport dominated by white men. He will conclude by taking questions.
“Most of us are well versed in the incredibly rich history of Montreal sports,” says Slayd. “We are often reminded of the many memorable moments and the legendary figures that made them happen, from Maurice Richard to Gary Carter to Nadia Comăneci. However there is one athletic icon who towers above them all; not necessarily because of what he accomplished on the field of play but more for what he achieved by being there in the first place.”
In the spring of 1947, African-American Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier when he took the field for the first time for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His courage and strength in the face of horrifying racial prejudice ignited a change that not only spread through the world of professional sports, but throughout the entire United States as the Civil Rights movement of the fifties loomed over the horizon. Dr. Martin Luther King often cited Jackie and his courageous efforts as being a trailblazer for the movement that helped end the evils of Jim Crow and change the course of American history forever.
Most people know the basics of the story but the part that many are not aware of is Jackie’s chapter here in Montreal. At the time, the Montreal Royals were the minor league affiliate of the Dodgers. This was a reality that turned out to be ideal for owner Branch Rickey. He knew that Jackie’s path to the major leagues would be easier going through a more liberal minded and segregation free city like Montreal. He was right. The city embraced him as their own, a fact highlighted by a writer at the time who famously wrote ,“It was the first time a white mob chased a black man with love on their mind, instead of lynching.”
Slayd not only appeared in the PBS video. Last summer he was invited to perform the song at the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Kansas City, Missouri.
“In a time when race is as contentious an issue as it has been in a long time, with stories of an intensifying conflict flooding our social media, I believe this story has important historical and social value,” Slayd says. “ In addition, it has a special hometown connection. One that I would aspire to make students both aware and hopefully proud of.”
"The English Montreal School Board has been privileged to have many excellent motivational speakers over the years, but Annakin Slayd showed us his true gift to deliver a moving message. And he did so to students from Kindergarten all the way up to our adult sector. His presence should be part of the curriculum."
Communications & Marketing Specialist,
English Montreal School Board
"I was bowled over by Annakin's presentation. He is a dynamic and passionate speaker. He had everyone under his spell and composed a beautiful tribute to Jackie Robinson. After seeing his presentation, I really am proud to be a Montrealer. I would love to have him back."
- Donna Manos
Principal - Laurenhill Academy