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Lecture: Jackie Robinson’s life and accomplishments

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A trailblazer, a legendary athlete, and a historical luminary; Jackie Robinson’s life and accomplishments will be celebrated at 10 am on Sept. 23, when the Academia Hernando community learning series will present “Jackie Robinson, no. 42: A Reluctant Pioneer” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2301 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill.

Academia Hernando is a not-for-profit lifelong learning organization providing quality instruction and learning experiences for adult students throughout Hernando County and beyond. Their goal is to inform, educate, and inspire adult learners through a series of weekly lectures on a wide variety of topics. Academia Hernando, formed as a division of learning in retirement of the University of South Florida, was originally entitled “Mondays in Brooksville” and met in the Commission Chambers of the Courthouse “Jack Roosevelt Robinson didn’t want to be a pioneer, he just wanted to play baseball. But 75 years ago on April 15, 1947, he stepped into the history books when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African American to play for a Major League team in Baseball’s ‘Modern Era.’” reads an event description. “Historians liken the event’s significance to the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision ending legal segregation in America. Time Magazine listed him as one of the 100 most significant individuals of the 20th century. But it wasn’t easy. The struggle Robinson and his family faced along the way is a truly inspiring story, one that impacted American History and which resounds to this very day.”

Presenter Rick Kistner is a renowned lecturer whose career was profiled by Charles Osgood on “CBS This Morning.” Since 2007, he has delivered more than 500 programs at many venues in Florida and elsewhere. He spent 30 years in Law Enforcement, including 20 years as a Chief of Police at cities in Ohio, Kansas, Connecticut, and Florida. Simultaneously he carried on a performing arts career that commenced at age 16 and continues to the present, as he appears on stage and in TV and radio commercials and the occasional film. As a voice artist, he can be heard reading many classics of literature on the Lit2Go website.

This Largo resident holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Wright State University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Dayton. He also studied Theater Arts at Connecticut’s prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. His intense interest in American History is reflected in his lectures regarding historical eras and notable personalities of the 19th and 20th centuries while his background in the performing arts forms the basis of his programs on film and theater topics.

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For Kistner, the subject of his Academia Hernando presentation is a sentimental favorite. “I first became aware of Jackie Robinson on Sept. 22, 1956. Our church treated its altar boys to a game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates at old Forbes Field. That day Robinson had three hits and was the star of the game and we all talked about him on the bus ride home. I must’ve talked about him at home because sometime later my mother gifted me with a book titled Champions in Sport and Spirit which included a segment about Brooklyn’s star first baseman. It was then that I began to appreciate that Robinson was more than simply a sports star,” he explained. “As I grew older and became interested in American history it became evident this grandson of slaves was a key player in the Civil Rights movement, breaking ground a full eight years before the landmark Supreme Court Case of Brown vs. Board of Education that overturned the long accepted doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’”

Through his Academia Hernando presentation, Kistner strives to capture the spirit and legacy of this heralded legend. “In my program ‘Jackie Robinson: Reluctant Pioneer’ I try to emphasize the many influences that led this star athlete to knowingly accept the enormous burden that was placed on his shoulders when he accepted the Brooklyn Organization’s offer to break the color line in modern baseball,” he said. “That he did so, knowing full well the scorn, the threats, and the dangers that would come his way, not only from fans but also from other players and even his own team-mates, marked the kind of courage that is embodied in the very definition of the word “hero.”

Sharon Printz, board member of Academia Hernando, is proud to welcome the return of Rick Kistner to the Academia Hernando stage. She stated, “Rick Kistner is an incredible speaker with a varied background, and we’re so fortunate to have him as an Academia Hernando speaker and he’s teaching us a good topic that we haven’t covered before. He’s teaching us about a pioneer.”

Coming up at Academia Hernando is “Women of the Third Reich” which will be presented on Friday, Sept. 30, at 10 am, by Anette Isaacs; “Edible Florida & Basic Survival Skills” which will be presented on Friday, Oct. 7, at 10 am by Don Philpott; “China Under Communism” will be presented on Friday, Oct. 14 at 10 am by Dr. David Kelly; “Around the World in 100 Minutes” will be presented on Friday, Oct. 21 at 10 am by Joy Katzen-Guthrie; and Nan Colton will present “Agatha Christie, Queen of Murder Mysteries” on Friday, Oct. 28 at 10 am; Ross Tarr, M.S. and Wanda Stuart, M.S will present “Storyteller of Old Tampa” on Friday, Nov. 4, at 10 am; then finally, on Friday, Nov. 11, a Mystery Bus Excursion will culminate the series.

Academia Hernando lectures begin promptly at 10 am and last for 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission. To register for the entire lecture series in addition to a mystery excursion, print the registration form found at https://www.academiahernando.org/fall-series and mail with your check for $80 payable to Academia Hernando, Inc. and mail to:
Bev Nuzzi
15027 Middle Fairway Drive
Brooksville, FL 34609

Checks also can be brought to an Academia Hernando presentation; in addition, walkin admissions are available at $15 per presentation. Visit https://www.academiahernando.org/ for more information or call (352) 345-8345.

Rick Kistner, photo supplied by the speaker.
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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