The Jackie Robinson of Hockey: Willie O’Ree

Social justice and racism changed hockey forever on January 18, 1958 when Willie O’Ree became the first Black player to play in the NHL. Today, the former Boston Bruin who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame has teamed with the NHL and Classroom Champions to create educator’s guides and resources for students in grades 5-12 to facilitate conversations on racism and social justice in hockey and beyond.

The free guides are for educators, coaches, families and community groups to help navigate the discussion around the issues addressed in the award-winning documentary film “Willie,” which you can watch for free on the LessonsFrom website.

Also on the site are Mindful Minute videos that confront issues such as barriers, coping, representation, language, allyship and resilience. Known as “the Jackie Robinson of hockey,” O’Ree weathered death threats and all kinds of abuse on and off the ice just for playing the game he loves.

This strong and spirited man shares his experiences and supports Black and other minority hockey players with class and the attitude of a conquering champion.

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