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Jackie Robinson Day is being celebrated around Major League Baseball Friday.
It’s an important day for the league, because it honors the icon who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 and paved the way for Black athletes to fight for equal opportunity and use their voices for causes more important than sports.
This year, the celebration has taken on an even greater meaning. In the wake of the country’s social uprising against racism and injustice, the impact of Robinson’s determined effort to not only change baseball, but change the world, are being felt. Voices of Black athletes are being heard louder and clearer than ever before.
The importance of Robinson’s fight has been highlighted in a moving video released by MLB. The video is narrated by Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, and comes with an uplifting backstory thanks to its director, filmmaker Randy Wilkins.
Here is the transcript of the video:
The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has is his personal dignity. If I had a room jammed with trophies, awards, and citations, and a child of mine came into the room and asked what I had done in defense of those fighting, and I had to tell that child I kept quiet, that I had been timid, I would have to mark myself a total failure in the business of living.
I cannot say I have it made while our country drives full speed ahead to a deeper rift between men and women of varying colors, speeds along a course towards more and more racism. Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.
Until every child can have an equal opportunity in youth and manhood, until hunger is not only immoral but illegal, until hatred is recognized as a disease, a scourge, an epidemic, and treated as such, until racism and sexism are conquered, until that day Jackie Robinson and no one else can say he has it made. There’s not an American in this country free until every one of us is free.
The powerful message is reverberating throughout MLB stadiums and social media platforms. It’s the creation of filmmaker Randy Wilkins, who just three months ago wasn’t on the same page with MLB.
Randy Wilkins challenged MLB to step up
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Randy Wilkins challenged MLB, who waited nine days before releasing a statement, to step up and deliver a stronger message on the issues of social and racial injustice.
In response, MLB reached out to Wilkins and asked him to help produce a video that not only highlighted Robinson’s enduring legacy, but highlighted changes that must be made in today’s society.
The finished product is one MLB and Wilkins should be proud of.
While it wasn’t attention that Wilkins sought, it further shows the importance of speaking up. Sometimes it feels like an impossible and uphill battle to create change, but voices will always be heard. The more people speak out, the better chance something special will happen.
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