As a kid growing up in Philadelphia, baseball was my first love. I rooted for my hometown Phillies throughout the season.
I soon learned that my parents had an affinity for the Dodgers, who moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. On May 28, 1957, National League owners voted unanimously to allow the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers to move to San Francisco and LA, respectively, at the midseason owners’ meeting in Chicago.
But the reason my folks leaned toward the Dodgers was because the Brooklyn team had brought Jackie Robinson to the major leagues in 1947, breaking the color barrier. He was the first black American player in the major leagues.
I realized the importance of his achievement. Robinson opened the door to people of color not only in the sports world but in most areas of society. The military of course played a monumental role in integration, too. Executive Order 9981, issued on July 26, 1948, by President Harry Truman, abolished discrimination “on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin” in the U.S. armed forces. The executive order led to the end of segregation in the services during the Korean War.
I remember when Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. A year later, my grandparents watched over us kids when my parents went to our nation’s capital for the March on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963.
Now as a 65-year-old black American, I realize the significance of what Robinson did for our country and for the human race.