Michelle Obama praises Jackie Robinson movie

WASHINGTON (AP) - Michelle Obama said on Tuesday that a new movie chronicling Jackie Robinson's rise through Major League Baseball, including the racial discrimination he endured while breaking the sport's colour barrier in the 1940s, left her and the president "visibly, physically moved" after they saw it over the weekend.

The film, 42, also left the couple wondering "how on Earth did (the Robinsons) live through that. How did they do it? How did they endure the taunts and the bigotry for all of that time?" she said.

After several years in the Negro Baseball League, Robinson broke his sport's colour barrier in 1947 to become the first black Major League Baseball player, batting for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His number was 42.

Mrs Obama commented at a workshop for a group of high school and college students who saw the movie in the White House theatre.

Some of the students attend a Los Angeles charter school named for Robinson and others are undergraduate scholars in a programme that bears the baseball great's name.

The students also participated in a question-and-answer session with Robinson's widow, Rachel, and members of the cast and crew, including Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson, Harrison Ford, who stars as former Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, and screenwriter Brian Helgeland.

President Barack Obama was holding a separate screening of 42 for the cast and crew later on Tuesday.

Mrs. Obama said everyone should see the movie, which opens nationwide on April 12.

"I can say with all sincerity that it was truly powerful for us," she said.

"We walked away from that just visibly, physically moved by the experience of the movie, of the story," and the "raw emotion" they felt afterward.

The first lady added that she was also "struck by how far removed that way of life seems today," noting how times have changed despite progress still to be made toward eliminating racial discrimination.

"You can't imagine the baseball league not being integrated. There are no more "Whites Only" signs posted anywhere in this country. Although it still happens, it is far less acceptable for someone to yell out a racial slur while you're walking down the street," she told the students.

"That kind of prejudice is simply just not something that can happen in the light of day today."

Mr Barack Obama broke a similar colour barrier by winning election in 2008 as the first black US president.

Echoing her husband, Mrs Obama said the Jackie and Rachel Robinson story is a reminder of the amount of hard work it takes to move a country forward.

"It reminds you how much struggle is required to make real progress and change," she said.

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