Later, he added: “The association of guns and violence against African Americans in this country is one of the things that’s been going on for a long time. And so the fact that they shot these markers using guns was a signal that was being sent in some way.”
(The Grady County Sheriff’s Office didn’t return a message seeking comment.)
Recasting and installing new markers costs thousands of dollars. Knowing the 2021 All-Star Game was coming to suburban Atlanta (before it was relocated to Denver over Georgia’s voting laws), Groce said the historical society contacted M.L.B. about partnering on a new Robinson marker. M.L.B. donated $40,000, he said, which covered not only the cost of a new aluminum birthplace marker, but also the addition of a second one — at the Roddenbery Memorial Library in downtown Cairo, a more trafficked area that directs people to the birth site 13 miles south — and established a fund for their upkeep.
April Brown, M.L.B.’s vice president of social responsibility, said the effort will exist in perpetuity because “we want to make sure it’s something that stands forever.”
“Sometimes people do look at things as, ‘Oh, it’s just a physical signage,’” she said. “But what it represents is how we can empower the community and audiences around social justice, and to empower and lift up those who fought for rights for all.”
Brown called the defacing of Robinson’s marker and the others “incredibly heartbreaking.” But she also sees it as an opportunity to call attention to the fact that vandalism directed at minorities is still happening.
“It’s still an indication of how much further our country needs to go,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate that whoever the individual or individuals were, they felt they needed to take it out on something that’s so iconic and for a man who left such a legacy in baseball and in America.”
The new Robinson markers were installed by local authorities on Wednesday. Local politicians, M.L.B. representatives from New York, Groce and Walden, among others, will gather at the public library on Friday morning to rededicate the markers. (A new Turner marker was already installed and rededicated in December.)