By Steve Williams
As USA gets ready to celebrate her 242nd birthday, I believe she is better now than ever when it comes to “liberty and justice for all.”
The world of sports has helped us come together as people – blacks, whites, all colors. It may have taken longer than it should have, but thankfully it happened.
If ever there is a Mount Rushmore for all sports, let the face of Jackie Robinson be the first to be carved in stone.
Robinson became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. His signing brought an end to racial segregation in professional baseball.
It wasn’t easy for Jackie to break the baseball color line. Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey knew it wouldn’t be. He told Robinson he would be subjected to a lot of racial hatred and required him to promise he would not retaliate the first three years before he signed him. Robinson agreed.
Not only was Jackie a great player, he had the character it took to challenge segregation, which marked many other aspects of American life at that time.
In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers refused to stand during the playing of our National Anthem at a pre-season game. It was his way of protesting racial injustice in our country. It set off a firestorm of controversy and no wonder.
There were two issues with Kaepernick’s actions. In the first place, the flag he disrespected is a symbol of the freedom that allows him to protest in this country.
Secondly, that old saying – There’s a time and place for everything – is true.
There’s nothing wrong with protesting. But using one’s place of employment as a stage for the protest is not fair to the employer and creates issues for the sport.
Had Kaepernick delivered his message from the front porch of his home, the media would have been there to cover it and publicize it, and a lot of upset fans wouldn’t have stopped watching the game.
Last week, former basketball great Oscar Robertson spoke out on social injustice and asked, “Where are the white athletes when this is happening?
“This is not a black athlete problem.”
Robertson is right and wrong. Social injustice is a people problem.
We should address it as such and work together to make improvements.