2013-04-10

42: The Jackie Robinson Story – The Lasting Legacy of Jackie Robinson

by Yo Snyder

One of my readers over at Hollywood Jesus.com left a rather
interesting comment about the legacy of Jackie Robinson. They shared how their
late father often said that Jackie Robinson “did more to advance equality for
people of color in this country than did the entire formal Civil Rights
movement. He said Robinson’s power was so great because he did it by being the
best he could by and by rising above his mockers and beyond his contemporary
social restraints.” Those are some interesting insights, and they touch on one
of the key points about Jackie Robinson; he was more than just a baseball
player, he was someone who truly left a lasting legacy.

We recently spent some time with the cast and crew of the
new movie 42: The Jackie Robinson Story,
and among some of the other things discussed was the lasting impact of
Robinson’s legacy. Chadwick Boseman, who plays Jackie in the film, shared just
a few of the ways he had an impact not only in his era, but in the many decades
since the arrival of Jackie Robinson in Major League Baseball:

“He was an inspiration, not just to African-American boys
and girls, but to people of all races, to kids of all races at that time. I
think he can still be that, he still is that. I have friends who went to
pre-screenings and they have sons and daughters that went with them to those
screenings and they left practicing their swings. They are setting up
screenings with the Jerry Manuel Foundation which concentrates on getting
African-Americans boys to take baseball seriously again, and they’re excited
about seeing the movie as well. They have vintage uniforms that they’re
wearing; I’ve seen pictures of them. So I think it’s going to be a topical and
exciting thing for youth currently.”

Of course, the trick is getting today’s youth to take an
interest. The younger generation probably doesn’t know Jackie Robinson from
Jackie O, unless they caught a reference to him on the Big Bang Theory (which probably isn’t likely as those guys aren’t
exactly sports or history fanatics). One of the most interesting thing about
the screening I attended was seeing just how shocked people were that there was
ever a time where it was taboo for a black man to play baseball. They were even
more shocked at just how much hatred and cruelty Robinson faced in changing
that perception. This is good, as we shouldn’t forget those moments of history,
even if they do make us uncomfortable, even if they are the moments in history
we’d rather not remember. I do hope that people get out to see this movie,
especially those of my generation and younger, because the legacy of Jackie
Robinson extends far beyond just baseball. In fact, it’s a legacy that affects
each and every one of us living in this country.