'I don't think you would've had Jackie Robinson without Rachel,' says First Lady Michelle Obama in an exclusive clip
In advance of Jackie Robinson Day, PBS will broadcast Jackie Robinson, a two-part documentary from veteran filmmaker Ken Burns.
The film is set to air on April 11 and 12, with the DVD/Blu-ray release slated for April 12. In anticipation of Jackie Robinson, EW can exclusively share a clip focused on Robinson’s wife, Rachel.
In the clip, Rachel herself discusses her relationship with her late husband, who died in 1972 following complications related to heart disease and diabetes. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle also appear, drawing parallels from the Robinsons’ marriage to their own.
“It was us against the world, and we enjoyed that and kind of laughed about it and strutted around with that in mind,” Rachel says of their connection. “It was important for us to feel that they couldn’t separate us. They could do a lot of things to us but they couldn’t separate us.”
“No Rachel, no Jackie,” Burns says point-blank. “Jackie’s an extraordinary athlete and amazing, but I don’t know how he could’ve done it alone.”
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Burns goes on to compare the Robinsons to another African-American couple famous for breaking down racial boundaries: The Obamas.
“The President and the First Lady, who themselves have had to weather opprobrium that was only directed because of their race,” Burns notes. “And all of the sudden you see these four human beings, four African-Americans, hurtling through space at different times, but sort of experiencing the same thing.”
Says Obama, “I think anytime you’re involved in an endeavor that involves enormous stress, finding yourself questioned in terms of whether you should be where you are, to be able to go back and have refuge with someone who you know loves you and you know has your back, that’s priceless.”
“Just being able to find that solace and that peace to withstand all the negative energy, it’s hard to do that alone,” adds Michelle. “There’s nothing more important than family, than a real partnership … I think that’s a sign of [Jackie’s] character, that he chose a woman that was his equal. I don’t think you would’ve had Jackie Robinson without Rachel.”