Cognition & Reality

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Jackie Robinson Day

Filed under: Race,Sports — drtone @ 3:05 pm

Friday night, 15 April, was the anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson became the first Black man to play in a major league baseball game. Before the game, the Dodgers aired a short piece, narrated by Vin Scully, celebrating Robinson’s accomplishments as a player and as a Civil Rights pioneer. It showed, among other things, Robinson stealing home and Robinson signing autographs for adoring fans. Reminding me of my feelings about the current view of Martin Luther King, it did not show, nor so much as mention, the constant abuse Robinson took during his first season, 1947, and subsequently, for having broken baseball’s color bar. The abuse came from fans, but also from his fellow players, many of them Whites from the South. Robinson’s stoic response to this outpouring of hatred made him a hero.

Something is happening to history, and it is not good. As a friend of mine said about leaving out the death threats, etc., that Jackie Robinson faced leaves the frosting and takes away the cake, portraying an empty heroism. To forget about the open bigotry unleashed by Robinson’s debut season, not only detracts from Robinson’s greatness as a man, but also does a disservice to our country, especially to young people, who deserve to know what we were then and how we have changed. In these daze when a person somehow becomes a “hero” for simply being a police officer or soldier, we can’t afford to forget what real heroism requires.

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