Monday, February 1, 2010

Lessons to learn from Jackie Robinson

Sunday would have been Jackie Robinson's 91st birthday. The following article was featured on Associated Content:

Jackie Robinson has a birthday today. According to his official website, the Jackie Robinson birthday was in Cairo, Georgia on January 31, 1919, 91 years ago today. The Jackie Robinson birthday is a time to ponder the effect this man had on the Civil Rights struggle in this country. He didn't live to see the many advances for people of color, but without him and other courageous folks, what would've been accomplished?

Jackie Robinson died in 1972 at the age of just 53 years old due to heart and diabetes issues, according to his Wikipedia biography. Can you imagine the cross this man had to bear in 1947 being the first African American player to play in the modern era of Major League Baseball? Think of the pressures, the abuse by opposing ballplayers and fans that he had to put up with in a time when Jim Crow laws were still in effect in many parts of the United States. The Jackie Robinson birthday of January 31 should inspire us to think about standing up for what we believe in, even if that means people will not be happy with our stands.

When it comes to sports milestones, Jackie Robinson never got to see a black man become the full-time manager of a Major League Baseball club, which would happen when one of his own contemporaries, Frank Robinson, got the job with the Cleveland Indians in 1975. The Hall of Famer never got to see Bill Lucas named the first black general manager in Major League Baseball history in 1976, according to the Atlanta Braves website here. This man never got to see a black quarterback lead a team to a Super Bowl victory, as Doug Williams led the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII January 31, 1988, on what would've been his 69th birthday. Jackie Robinson never got to see the first African American coach a team to a Super Bowl championship, which Tony Dungy did in Super Bowl XLI in February of 2007 for the Indianapolis Colts. The Jackie Robinson birthday should be remembered as a man's lifetime greatly spent having to defend his own race from the assumptions that they didn't have the mental abilities to lead men on the field and from the sidelines.

And as for matters of a more significant nature, the Brooklyn Dodger never got to see the historic event of Barack Obama being elected president of the United States in 2008. Jackie Robinson wasn't alive to see this historical event, but nonetheless, he's been there in spirit as people have struggled for equality. Many of us wish for things to be better and work for their fruition to come about. Yet we may not see those things come to pass during our lifetimes, but our efforts still help pave the way for others to see those advancements made.

January 31, the Jackie Robinson birthday, is a time to really ponder what it means to push forward against the odds and let the advancements sought after come as they may. His birth comes a day before Black History Month commences, too.

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