Jackie Robinson: Faith in Himself – and in God

Thursday's Editorial - April 17, 2014

Questions

1.  The purpose of an editorial/commentary is to explain, persuade, warn, criticize, entertain, praise or answer. What do you think is the purpose of this editorial? Explain your answer.

2.  From pbs:

In 1947, a major breakthrough of the color line in sports occurred when Jackie Robinson, a 28-year-old African-American ballplayer and war veteran, was brought up from the minor leagues to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The nation was divided at first. Many whites and nearly all blacks applauded the move and said it was long overdue. But a large number of whites, including many major league baseball players, objected to his presence. Although most of the press supported Robinson, some newspapers were opposed.

Robinson knew that his presence on the playing field would cause resentment. He anticipated that some pitchers would aim pitches at his head and that other players would try to injure him on the basepaths.

One Southern player, Enos "Country" Slaughter of the St. Louis Cardinals, spiked Robinson particularly brutally, causing a seven-inch gash. Ballplayers and fans would shout epithets of [the N word] at him when he came to bat. He also was aware that a few rabid racists might try to kill him -- or at least scare him with death threats. But despite all of these pressures, Robinson played extremely well. He was a solid hitter, an outstanding base stealer, and he excelled defensively. He handled the pressure well… The Sporting News, a newspaper that had opposed blacks in the major leagues, gave Robinson its first Rookie of the Year Award in 1947; the award was renamed in Robinson's honor in 1987.

Robinson's action had repercussions far beyond the sports world. Robinson's integration of baseball was a major blow to segregation everywhere, causing other racial barriers to fall. Robinson himself spoke out against Jim Crow laws. He criticized hotels that refused to let him stay with his teammates and teams that refused to hire black players. A number of hotels and restaurants where the Dodgers stayed integrated as a result. Robinson's outstanding 10-year career included a .311 lifetime batting average, playing in six World Series, and stealing home 19 times. He also won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 1949, when he led the league with a .342 batting average and 37 stolen bases. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Robinson wrote, "I can testify to the fact that it was a lot harder to turn the other cheek and refuse to fight back than it would have been to exercise a normal reaction."   How does Jackie Robinson's decision to follow the teaching of Jesus in his life inspire you?

(Read the passage from the Bible that Jackie Robinson followed: from Matthew 5: 33-48, Jesus said:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. …

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.