*Nearly 70 years ago, for the first time in American history, Jackie Robinson, an African American, took the field as a major league baseball player for the Brooklyn Dodgers. And 70 years later, Robinson’s legacy is alive and well.
Today, Jackie’s youngest son, David, now 64 years old, has been a Tanzanian coffee farmer for the last 25 years.
“My father enhanced the quality of baseball and also of American society by showing that inclusion and integration can benefit us all,” said David Robinson, of his late father who passed away in 1972 of a heart attack at 53 years old.
David hopes he can follow in his father’s footsteps, albeit less historically significant, by bridging the gap between coffee farmers in Africa and Bay Area imports.
“We hope that the inclusion and integration of coffee can benefit the industry.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Robinson, who has 10 children of his own, organized a cooperative called Sweet Unity Farms that he now hopes will be able to improve the relationship between African coffee farmers and American coffee consumers.
Robinson and Sweet Unity Farms announced a recent partnership with Red Bay Coffee, an Oakland, California coffee company. Red Bay Coffee just released one of Robinson’s branded coffee from Tanzania’s Mbeya Region. Red Bay will begin a national marketing campaign to bring awareness and exposure to the new international partnership and will also share profits with Sweet Unity Farms.
In the U.S., the total yearly value of agricultural exports is $136.3 billion. Tanzanian farmers have never seen anywhere close to that kind of money and many live in extremely poor areas.
This new partnership will provide a shared percentage of profits to the African farmers, which means they will not only get a percentage from American revenue sales through Red Bay Coffee, but they will also get their initial payment when they sell their unroasted beans to Red Bay.
“We’d love to get more money in the pocket of the farmers,” said founder of Red Bay Coffee, Keba Konte.
“We’re getting to the point where it can be developmental, not just subsistence,” Robinson added.