Sunday, April 15, 2007

60 years since Robinson became a Dodger

Today I'm reminded of a Minnesota folk singer, Mason Jennings, who once said "...some one's been there long before ya."

60 years ago today, Jackie Robinson walked into Americans' lives as a Brooklyn Dodger. During a time when America was still stricken with the diseased mindset of segregation, nearly all of his teammates shunned and heckled Robinson, all that is, except one. Pee Wee Reese, the then Dodgers team captain, supported Jackie from the very beginning. "You can hate a man for many reasons, color is not one of them," he said.

this post is not about Mason Jennings, or Jackie Robinson, but more about the Pee Wee Reeses of the world. While America was busy separating "us" from "them," Reese choose to believe that there was no "them" to discern from "us." Instead of seeing Robinson as an African American who happened to play ball, he instead saw him as a fellow athlete. I often wonder where people like Reese come from. Growing up in a society that shuns one thing or another, there is always someone who rises above the ignorance and does what he believes is right- something contrary to everything he's been raised to believe.

When we, as volunteers, find ourselves fearing that certain minority groups will never become integrated into mainstream society or that there is no foreseen end to rampant discrimination, its then that we must remember Mason Jennings' words. And its then that we must especially remember people like Pee Wee Reese. Because as long as there has been injustice, there has been someone else willing to stand up for what's right. I personally find a lot of hope in that.


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