ABC7 In Your Neighborhood: Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre

January 27, 2012 8:04:17 AM PST
In our ABC7 "In Your Neighborhood" segment, we visited one of the oldest buildings in Chicago, which is showcasing a compelling take on a big moment in the struggle for civil rights.

The Lookingglass Theatre is showing what it really took to get Jackie Robinson to the major leagues.

"Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting" is a stylized account of a Manhattan hotel-room conversation in the days leading up to April 15th, 1947. Written by Ed Schmidt, it shows how history had to be manufactured.

The play focuses on a meeting between Rickey and legendary supporters of Jackson Robinson - including boxer Joe Lewis, singer Bojangles Robinson and actor and activist Paul Robeson - to support Rickey's plan to break Major League Baseball's color barrier.

"You've got all these characters they are in the history pages and they are not really alive to a lot of today's students and people who live now," said actor James Vincent Meredith, who plays Robeson.. "This gives life to these people."

Martin Luther King, Jr. said Jackie Robinson "challenged the dark skies of intolerance and frustration." Robinson was one of only two players during the span of 1947-56 to accumulate at least 125 steals while registering a slugging percentage over .425. Minnie Miñoso, the first black player for the Chicago White Sox, was the other.

Minoso lived those days and accepted the accolades of the troupe at a recent rehearsal. In turn, Minoso admired their portrayal of what indeed became a monumental step in America's civil-rights revolution.

"What I saw there today... there is a beautiful thing," Minoso said. "I think they do a good job."