Monday, April 16, 2007

In Douglas Adams' book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. For those of us growing up in the 40s and 50s and fans of the Brooklyn Dodgers, 42 was the answer. Jackie Robinson became a Dodger April 15, 1947. He broke the color barrier in major league baseball. Martin Luther King, Jr. credits him with being the one who made it possible for the civil rights movement to unfold in our time. A six part series on his life and times is in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Click here to read it all.
For me, growing up in Portland OR, the Brooklyn Dodgers captured my imagination and heart. I listened to them play on the radio, with what I later learned where sound effects of the studio rather than live sounds, I agonized with their losses and rejoiced in their victories. Somehow it did not enter my 6 year old mind that there was anything new with Jackie Robinson - all I knew is that by 1955, he had been key to their beating the hated Yankees in the World Series. Now I know more of the history and the grit and the suffering that it took to be the first African American in the Major Leagues.
Sunday, Major League Baseball honored Jackie Robinson, his widow, Rachel told of the work that goes on in his name. Click HERE to learn more. She spent time Sunday in the ESPN booth with my favorite announcer team of Joe Morgan and Jon Miller. It is easy to see who made it possible for Jackie Robinson to be on the field in those days. She continues his work to give youth a chance for education and leadership.
April 15 now stands for something other than the day one's taxes are due. Maybe it should be thought of as the day when those of privilege remember their debt to those who have gone before. No one is "self made" - all of us stand on the shoulders of those who have made the way for us. Now is the time to be the shoulders for those to come. 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.