Tuesday, April 23, 2013

42: Telling Our Story

I loved the movie 42.

This weekend my husband and I went to see the movie we'd been waiting to see -- the biographical sketch of famed MLB Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, played by my fellow Howard University Alum Chadwick Boseman. On opening weekend, 42 made box office history, bringing in $27.3 million, more than any other baseball-themed movie in history.

It warmed my heart to watch the start of Jackie's MLB career play out on the widescreen.

I laughed. I cried. I got spitting mad.

In the end, I celebrated the life of a man who lived with courage and determination. He could have given up a million times.

I'm so glad he didn't.

But what can we, living in the year 2013, learn from 42? I can think of a few things.

1. Never Underestimate the Influence of One Man or Woman

History books are full of men and women who led powerful movements. In the Sixteenth Century, Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, seeking to make Christianity and the Bible accessible to ordinary men and women. Three centuries later, Martin Luther King, Jr. sacrificed his steady life as a Baptist preacher to lead the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. Mother Teresa, through her Missionaries of Charities, gave her life to feed, heal and comfort others -- orphans, the destitute, those dying of ravaging diseases.

By accepting the challenge of becoming the first African American to play Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson also made a huge difference that we're still benefiting from today.

Never, ever assume one person can't make a difference.

2. Women Can be Powerful Influencers

Okay, now as a woman, I've got to get a little real here.

I loved the portrayal of Rachel, wife of Jackie Robinson, in 42. But I left the theater thinking, "You mean to tell me Rachel and Jackie never had a fight? She never struggled over his decision to segregate MLB? She never longed for the quiet days of old? She never just downright lost it?"

Well, maybe she didn't. I just had to ask.

But nevertheless, I've got to commend Rachel for standing by her man. 

Like Jackie, she never backed down, never turned around, never put her man down. Now that I believe.

And as a woman and a wife, that inspires me.

3. We Must Work Together to Make Change

42 illuminated the role of MLB executive Branch Rickey, the first man to invite an African American to join his team. Without Rickey's courage, Jackie would have had a wonderful baseball career.

But it wouldn't have been in the Major Leagues.

The Civil Rights Movement wasn't fought by African Americans alone. Black and white, male and female marched side-by-side, together, in unity. Today, if we're going to make any major impact on the world, we've got to embrace our brothers and sisters of different hues.

We've got to reach out and grab the hand that may be a bit lighter or a bit darker, if we're going to change the world.

Now let's go change the world, Y'all!


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