Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dear Jackie Robinson: Thank You

Jackie Robinson, Rachel Robinson, and their three children (David, Sharon, and Jackie, Jr.) at home in Stamford, Connecticut. Photograph by Arthur Rothstein, 1956.

"He was a freedom rider before freedom rides."
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
--Epitaph on Jackie Robinson's gravestone.

Dear Jackie Robinson:

During the month of February, during Black History Month, during this momentous time in history, the daddy could thank you for your many accomplishments. His father used to brag about how you pranced and danced around first base before racing to second to steal a base or to get into position to come home after a sacrifice fly. And he used to talk about how you:

* Won the Rookie of the Year award in 1047;
* Won the MVP award in 1947;
* Received the Spingarn Medal in 1956; and
* Was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

He could thank you for the work you did on behalf of African Americans off the field too, how you:
* Served on numerous community boards to help improve the African American community;
* Helped establish the Freedom National Bank, an African-American owned and controlled bank in Harlem, New York;
* In 1950, played yourself in the biographical film "The Jackie Robinson Story."

Most of all, the daddy wants to thank you for dealing with those who called you "nigger," "coon," and "monkey" with such calm and professionalism. Your quiet dignity expressed more than words can say about the moral weakness of those who railed so loudly and so savagely against you. You showed them and us (African American males) what it means to be a man.

So, during Black History Month, the daddy wants to say African Americans and many non-African Americans remember. We remember your work both off the field and on the field to improve the station of African Americans and to help America live up to its promise of a land of freedom for all of its citizens, and for giving of yourself for the betterment of others. In this sense, the epitaph on your gravestone is so appropriate for the life you lived:

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
Note: Please check out the photos in the sidebar of greats in African American history.


SagaciousHillbilly said...

Today we see the result of the sacrifices of so many who gave so much of themselves and we think: "it's a good time to be alive and see these things happening."
I have a feeling there were some older people around back in the 50s and 60s who were saying "it's a good time to be alive and see these things happening."
Back in '68 I had tons of hope and just assumed I'd see a black president, black astronauts, and that people would become one with each other. It was hope tainted by youthful delusion and some good weed, but it's what some of us believed and clung to for a long time. Then we lost that hope somewhere between Woodstock and the election of Ronald Reagan.
I'm glad that hope is back for people like me and we can say "It's a good time to be alive and see these things happen."
Always a pleasure to read your reflections Daddy.


THANKS FOR THIS GREAT POST! Since my dad was a pro baseball player way back when, I'm always interested in things baseball....
HaVE you read Gwen Ifill's new book: BREAKTHROUGH...Deomocracy in the Age of obama? In this book she develops the idea that Obama got where he is because of giants like Jackie Robinson...

MacDaddy said...

Sagacious: Love your optimism. it's infectious.

Nun: I'm going to Borders to check out this afternoon.

judy said...

Having read your post just after writing about Oni Faida Lampley, I'm struck by the simple truth of "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." We have to keep it in mind: We're not here forever. We just get this one life to make a difference.

Great post, Daddy.

Solomon said...

I love the part when you thanked him for sticking up for himself, and dealing with the haters that wanted to bring him down, it is always great to hear about stories of a brother that didn't take no shit.

And the reason he didn't take no shit is because nobody else was going to stick up for him, and as Judy mentioned "We only have one life to make a difference."

rainywalker said...

A great man that the Youth of America could and still look up to. A true hero that we look for in crowds.

MacDaddy said...

Judy: Thanks but who was Oni Faida Lampley?

Rainy: Yes, and before Rosa Park's refusal to move to the back of the bus, Robinson got arrested for the same thing. A soldier in uniform at the time, he felt he shouldn't have to back down from anyone.This made this brave man's decision not to fight back at people who hurled epithets at him even more impressive.

Solomon: The more you look at our history, the more it is revealed how brave many of our people were. I've been told of distant relatives in Alabama and Mississippi who, when they registered to vote, had the homes burned down. And, yes, Judy said it so well: We're not here forever. We just get this one life to make a difference."

Anonymous said...

When Jackie played minor league baseball in Montreal, he influenced a number of Blacks that chose to play hockey. Including one of my favorite players, Georges Laraque.

Jackie did a lot of good outside of our borders, too.

Happy Black History Month!

judy said...

Oni Faida Lampley was an amazingly talented award-winning playwright who died last year after a 12-year battle with breast cancer. I saw her autobiographical play, Tough Titty, this weekend. She wrote throughout her illness, which was brutal and ugly and would have stopped lesser people - just as most people would have been stopped if faced with the adversity Jackie Robinson faced. Their paths (Jacie's and Oni's) were different, but their spirit was the same.

MacDaddy said...

Judy; Thanks for the info.

Jay said...

Dr. King Deserves Better in Charlotte, NC!