Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama, Martin Luther King, and Jackie Robinson

As much of the world -- or, at the least the free world -- knows, Barack Obama has now accepted the Democratic Nomination to officially run for president.

It goes without saying that his nomination is nothing short of a watershed moment in American history, and could perhaps not only change the perception of race and race relations in the United States -- but also the nation's profile on the global front.

This morning after scouring the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN Online, I navigate to the Baltimore Sun and read a wonderful and insightful piece by columnist David Steele titled, "Robinson to King to Obama, A Combination For Progress", and found this to be real interesting:

Today's date, Aug.28, links two epic moments in American history and in the progress of African-Americans in this country: The Rev.Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in 1963 and Barack Obama's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president tonight. That has been well-documented.

The connection and importance of that date, however, is stronger than even Obama might realize. Aug.28 is also the date, in 1945, that Jackie Robinson first met Branch Rickey and was told that he was the player chosen to break baseball's color line.

A coincidence, a fluke of the calendar spanning 63 years - but one with tremendous meaning. A straight line can be drawn from Robinson opening the door to the national pastime of a rigidly segregated America to King voicing the ideals of a fully integrated society on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the son of a black father running for the highest office in the land.

"I was surprised and unaware but was delighted by the wonderful coincidences," Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter and educational consultant for Major League Baseball, said through a spokeswoman for the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
Surprised I was too. Is it destiny? I don't know. Coincidence, more than likely; however, as an African American male and a student of history, I found the connection between these three great men to be special, inspiring, and proud.

There's one thing that's certain -- if he does win, it will usher a great change in America's psyche.

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