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Jackie Robinson. A short tour of his NYC faith life

Church and faith were central to Jackie Robinson’s success.

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Jackie Robinson

"Home and church" by Associated Press

Robinson lived in several places in Brooklyn before moving to Queens and later Connecticut with his wife and children. On a tidy block in East Flatbush, a two-story brick house at 5224 Tilden Ave. with a rusting fence and peeling paint bears a plaque that states: “The first African-American major league baseball player lived here from 1947 to 1949.” Local officials have started an effort to landmark the house.

Robinson and his wife Rachel also lived for a time at 526 MacDonough St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Although much of the movie was filmed in the South, some scenes were shot on MacDonough because the filmmakers wanted to show the building’s distinctive front stoop, a common feature of Brooklyn homes. The production company used the Nazarene Congregational Church at 506 MacDonough St. for storage and wardrobe while filming, according to Nazarene’s pastor, the Rev. Conrad Tillard.

When Robinson first arrived in New York, he lived for a time with Nazarene’s then-assistant pastor, the Rev. Lacy Covington and his wife Florence. “Church and faith were central to Jackie Robinson’s success,” said Tony Carnes, who publishes an online magazine called A Journey Through NYC Religions.

Nazarene was considered a “mink coat church” at the time, Tillard said, with an educated, affluent African-American congregation. Robinson later came back to the church to “make an impassioned speech about the dangers of drugs,” Tillard said. Robinson’s son, Jack, who’d served in the Vietnam War, was a heroin addict.

See the whole travel guide to Jackie Robinson’s Brooklyn

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