|Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson, September, 1962|
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Martin Luther King Jr on the Contributions of Jackie, Roy and Don
On the eve of this 2011 commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. day, take a look at this quote from Dodger great, Don Newcombe:
“Do you know what Jackie's impact was? Well, let Martin Luther King tell you. In 1968, Martin had dinner in my house with my family. This was 28 days before he was assassinated. He said to me, "Don, I don't know what I would've done without you guys setting up the minds of people for change. You, Jackie, and Roy will never know how easy you made it for me to do my job." Can you imagine that? How easy we made it for Martin Luther King!”
Let’s look at some facts. At the time Jackie Robinson signed in 1945, it was:
9 years before the Supreme Court outlawed “separate but equal” laws with the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.
11 years before the Rosa Parks incident when she was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a bus.
12 years before the “Little Rock nine” were accompanied by federal troops to attend Central High School in Little Rock.
18 years before the famous March on Washington and Martin Luther King Junior’s speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
That was true pioneering by Jackie. What a courageous and great man! I'll never forget my 6th grade teacher breaking down and crying upon hearing from us that Jackie Robinson had passed away. Even after Jackie broke the color barrier, allowing baseball to integrate, there was a lot that needed to be accomplished in the civil rights movement. But the ice breaker was Jackie and Dr. King’s statement to Don Newcombe was significant.
It would be accurate to say that the legacy of Jack Roosevelt Robinson will live on for ages. It set the standard and opened the eyes of the American public to be accepting of all races in sport. From there, the Civil Rights movement went forward.