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By Jeremy | April 15, 2007
Could Jackie Robinson have integrated professional baseball -- 8 years before Brown v. Board of Ed
-- anywhere other than in Brooklyn, New York?
History records that Brooklyn Dodger President Branch Rickey
defied every MLB franchise owner when he signed Robinson in 1946. But had the Dodgers played in Boston or Atlanta or any other American city, would Branch Rickey have had the courage to do what he did -- or for that matter sufficient backing at home to stand by his decision? More than 2 million people still call Brooklyn home, making it the fourth largest American city, and they move from around the globe into what remains the most integrated community in the world (although Flushing, Queens
is probably the most diverse neighborhood). Branch Rickey understood this, and I suspect it emboldened him to empower Jackie to make history.
One Sunday afternoon last summer, I was once again stunned by just how diverse my neighborhood really is. Three Latin American families (Mexican, Honduran or Ecuadorian -- I'm not sure, but they were definitely not Puerto Rican) were celebrating birthdays in the park; children from half a dozen Hasidic families chased each other in the playground; Arabic boys and girls took turns on the swings; and Judah was playing Star Wars with three or four neighborhood children he'd never previously met. Smiles and laughter were everwhere. They did not discriminate.
As Major League Baseball celebrates 60 years since Jackie Robinson changed the world, remember what made him special. In his own words:
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
"Life is not a spectator sport. If you're going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you're wasting your life."
+ "The Breakthrough
" (Sports Illustrated
, May 5, 1997: "During 14 games in May 1947, Jackie Robinson erased any doubt that he belonged in the majors, clearing the path for other black players.")
+ Jackie Robinson Retrospective
+ Quotes by and about Jackie Robinson
+ And for good measure, "The Yankees' own Robinson
Topics: baseball, brooklyn, heroes, jackie robinson, new york, race | 1 Comment »