A Reason to Like April 15th!
Today is Jackie Robinson Day
, the 57th anniversary of the breaking of the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
Although it is commonly forgotten today, in the immediate aftermath of WWII, there was a sudden and sharp movement in this country towards eliminating prejudice. I am proud that two of my favorite pastimes, baseball and comic books were part of this effort. The death camps in Nazi Germany shocked America and forced us to recognize that there was a cost to society for treating any of our citizens as less worthy than other citizens.
Robinson was a great ballplayer, easily worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame for his playing ability. When you consider the enormous obstacles he faced both off and on the field, it is obvious that he deserves the honor and recognition that has come his way. As an added bonus, Robinson was a Republican, although he did not always vote that way. He supported Humphrey over Kennedy in the Democratic Primaries of 1960, and voted for Nixon when Humphrey did not get the nomination. He did support Humphrey over Nixon in 1968. Although obviously supportive of the civil rights movement, he criticized MLK for his opposition to the Vietnam War.
Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in baseball was part of that movement, but it was hardly alone. In the Superman radio show there were literally hundreds of episodes dealing with Superman's battle against hatred and intolerance. In one series of episodes, Superman battled the "Clan of the Fiery Cross".
In fact, everybody knows what Superman fights a never-ending battle for, right? Truth, justice and the American Way! Unfortunately, few know that the last part was not added until after WWII. Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Kavalier and Clay, a thinly disguised account of the creators of Superman, made an odd gaffe in a TV appearance a year ago. He implied that "The American Way" had been added during the Cold War as a kind of chest-thumping nationalism. One would think that the fact that famed liberal Norman Lear's organization is known as "People for the American Way" would have alerted him to the fact that he was wrong.
In fact, "The American Way" was explained by Superman in a special message at the end of a 1946 Thanksgiving radio broadcast as meaning that we are all of us, white, black, yellow and brown, Americans and that we've got to pull together to solve our problems and not be divided by hatred.
Here's to you, Mr Robinson!