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Jackie Robinson's Mandate - Black History Month in Pasadena

A life can be a work of art, but like art, there are standards to meet before it can be classified as
"art". A life that is a "work of art" has to do something pretty spectacular, like advance the human race or something equally valuable.


The life of Pasadena's own Jackie Robinson, was a work of art!

Jackie Robinson is our true local hero. He was not only a great athlete, he was also incredibly brave and very eloquent too.

He was able to communicate in this quote, the impossibility of his ultimate struggle (although he did achieve part of it in breaking baseball's color barrier - isn't it hard now to imagine that it ever existed?). He is showing us here, how hard his struggle was:

"I was proud of [what I did] and yet I was uneasy…I know that I am a Black man in a White world".

I have been writing on this blog about the horrible contemporary racism one can find openly printed in our newspapers and on our blogs, much of it regarding Jackie's alma-matter John Muir High School, racism that has to end!! One of the posts is here: Muir bashing

There was an incredible Los Angeles Times article a little while back by Susan Brink called Bridging a longevity gap

Her article asserted that a connection had been shown to exist between racism and black men's early mortality rates using statistics dating back to early slavery. The article noted that heart disease (the heart -- no wonder here...) and diabetes appear to be aggravated by an emotional reaction to encountering racism, that factor in the deterioration of the individual's health.

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Jackie Robinson died at 53 (from complications of heart disease AND diabetes).

But along with understanding his pain, we have to learn from him and here is where the Mandate part comes in (and this really applies to all of America).

"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives"

This is a beautiful spiritual mandate - delivered to us by one self-sacrificing enough put it into Action, and take the slings and arrows to make this a reality.

Jackie Robinson gave to us ("assigned" us, really) a mandate to respect each other, no matter the color of a person's skin, how poor they are, where they go to school, what side of town they live on, or how many parents they have!! (Muir-grad Robinson was raised in poverty, in NorthWest Pasadena, by a single mother).

I think its fair to say this "us" applies especially to us living right here in his childhood home of Pasadena, California, 2009 - and that mandate was to love and not hate each other.


Virginia Hoge

Republished with permission from the Pasadena New Progressive