Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Obama the Jackie Robinson we need
Submitted by Roldo on Sun, 05/04/2008 - 17:47.
He’s our Jackie Robinson. Do we afford to not take the chance?
Barack Obama is tough in just the way Jackie Robinson had to be tough in 1947.
He has to operate in a non-threatening way and that may make him seem weak. He has had to ignore some attacks upon him without responding in kind. Robinson, a strong competitor, had to turn the “other cheek” to insults and attacks.
The Robinson story is well-known. Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, wanted to integrate Major League Baseball. He needed someone who was more than a major league ballplayer. He needed someone who could restrain himself in the face of unfair opposition.
He figured he had a guy tough enough to withstand what he knew was coming in racist attacks, not only of other ballplayers but those on his own team. Rickey, according to Robinson, told his players “that anyone who didn’t want to accept me could leave.”
I believe Obama has the same strength of character and is dealing with his historic run for President of the United States with courage similar to that shown by Robinson years ago.
In 1947 Robinson’s integration of baseball was not looked upon as such a heroic event in American history as it is now. It grew as people came to understand its significance beyond sports.
Obama’s run for President hasn’t been considered as historic as it will be some day. Other blacks, of course, have run for the office. He wasn’t considered to be as much of a possibility to win when the race began with such opponents as Senators Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, John Edwards and Chris Dodd.
You can observe Obama contain himself. His reticence earns him jibes of being “holier than thou” or the lack of “testicular” requirements. I think, however, it isn’t what he lacks. His reserve is the restraint that’s necessary because of his race. The game doesn’t require the same of Sen. Clinton, or particularly of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Robinson became much more aggressive after a few years and began to speak out. He no longer absorbed the attacks quietly. His tormentors then felt the sting of his once restrained feelings.
The first thing I ever wrote that was published occurred when I was 17 or l8 years old. Yes, I was a Dodger and a Robinson fan. The local Sunday sports editor wrote a column castigating Robinson for becoming too assertive, saying he should restrain himself because he “owed” baseball for allowing him to participate. My emotional reaction was it was just the opposite; baseball clearly owed Robinson the debt. I wrote a letter to the sports editor and then forgot about it. Several weeks later, I was surprised to find all his column was devoted to my reaction to his original column.
I’m one who believes that just as sports needed a Robinson in 1947, America needs an Obama in 2008. We need a level headed, restrained individual at this time, one who has had to absorb slings and arrows and will do so for the right outcome.
He shows the judgment so lacking in our leadership today.
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