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June 1, 2016

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Why 42? Jackie Robinson’s Lasting Impact

A couple weekends ago I turned to my boyfriend and asked when we were going to see 42. He was more than a little confused. You see, he’s a ginormous baseball fan, and I’m indifferent to the game. I get that people love it, but I don’t really feel one way or the other.

That said, I’ve been a fan of Jackie Robinson for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure when I first read about him and the integration of baseball, or when I first saw his list of values to live by, but I do know that I’ll happily read anything about him and his legacy. That’s why I wanted to see the current movie about his life.

The experience of watching 42 was everything I’d hoped it would be. While the movie only covers a few years of Jackie Robinson’s life—from his recruitment from the Negro Leagues to his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers—I left the theater knowing far more about the man, his challenges, his strength, and the massive stakes he was up against. By being the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues, he faced the racism not only of those living in the segregated South, but of the media, baseball fans on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, managers and players on other teams, and his teammates. There are some scenes where the racism is so explicit that it was painful to watch.

But I was fully aware that the pain I felt as a viewer—not to mention as a white woman in Brooklyn in 2013—was nothing compared to what Jackie Robinson, his family, and millions of other African Americans lived through. The film 42 is a powerful tribute to an individual man and an honest acknowledgement of our nation’s history, how far we’ve come, and how very far we still have to go.

In the meantime, I’ve posted Jackie’s Nine Values above my desk, and I know that I have some more reading and some more work to do.

 

Books about Jackie Robinson are available in Club Shop here.

A reproducible bookmark with Jackie Robinson’s Nine Values is available from Major League Baseball here.

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April 17, 2013