DID YOU KNOW JACKIE ROBINSON WAS A GREAT LEADER IN BUSINESS TOO?
Everyone knows that baseball great Jackie Robinson made history when he signed to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But did you know that he made history again—after his baseball career?
On a warm spring day in April 1947, Number 42 confidently stepped onto the baseball diamond for the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier to become the first African American to play baseball in the Major Leagues. Even now, baseball celebrates April 15 as “Jackie Robinson Day,” a day when professional baseball players far and wide wear the jersey number 42 to honor this pioneering hero.
BREAKING BARRIERS IN BUSINESS
But there’s more to Jackie’s story. Ten years later, he made history again when he became the first African American vice president of a Fortune 500 company. Can you guess the name of that company?
It was Chock full o’Nuts®, of course!
William Black, founder and owner of the popular New York City nut shops, which later evolved into the iconic Chock full o’Nuts® coffee shops, hired Jackie Robinson to head his personnel department. Mr. Robinson led the company’s human resources department for seven years.
SO HOW DID THIS START?
During the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties, Black sold roasted nuts on the streets of New York City. When the Great Depression hit, he found that roasting coffee was more affordable to many of his customers. Before long, food was added to the repertoire and he eventually became famous not only for his coffee, but also for cream cheese sandwiches on date nut bread.
AN ADVOCATE FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
Black was an advocate for racial equality and hired many African Americans for positions in his cafes. He knew Robinson would connect personally with the employees, not only because he was African American, but because he was a proven leader, an asset to the team, and—well, a darn good person.
Robinson was active in civil rights initiatives and fundraising activities while at Chock full o’Nuts® and throughout his life. Black supported his endeavors, at one point writing a $10,000 check to the NAACP (a whole lot of beans in those days!). Years later, after Robinson’s death in 1972, his wife Rachel founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which preserves his legacy through its college scholarship program, online college success platform, and the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City—opening in 2022.
We at Chock full o’Nuts® celebrate the achievements of Robinson and are proud to share these historic moments – including the contributions Robinson made to the senior leadership team of Chock full o’Nuts®!
COMMEMORATING JACKIE ROBINSON IN 2022
Chock full o’Nuts® honored the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic debut into Major League Baseball in 2022 by featuring his accomplishments on several Chock full o’Nuts® Heavenly Original® cans. Each can was graced with images of Robinson both as a professional athlete and as a professional executive. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, whose mission is to educate, inspire, challenge, and narrow the achievement gap in higher education by providing college scholarships and leadership training.