Athlete is in a difficult position in
this world because their fame is most
often based on their performances, and
if that's dead, usually so too is their
power to make socio-political changes.
This is typically difficult when you are
a minority and have little to no resemblance
to the people who write the checks. But
there have been influential athletes who
have used their power in the media and
on the field to make people aware of the
injustices of life, along with the beauties
of it! These are just a few that I've
thought of. This is part two of a series.
Carlos & Tommie Smith – These two men showed their pride
for their respective races when they put
black gloves on their hands and raised
a fist for the struggles that black athletes
and people have experienced in America.
Smith raised his right hand and Carlos
raised his left. Need I say more?
The media portrayed these actions
in a negative manner. While the
media's efforts could have been used to
constructively address the status quo
in the U.S., their negative coverage of
the well-known Olympic ceremony in 1968
resulted in a committee asking Carlos
and Smith to leave the territory that
was hosting the event.
Ali – This man stood behind his moral
and religious convictions and refused
to enter the military which prompted boxing
to take his heavyweight crown and bar
him from boxing. He told people that he
didn't believe in the war and refused
to fight other poor people. He
later won his belts back and is of course
now considered "the greatest of all-time!"
Robinson – Remember that baseball is "America's
game" and certainly that of the heartland,
so when a young brash man from Los Angeles
decided to endure the racial threats and
slurs to take his historic place on
the field, he changed the game forever.
Throughout Robinson's career, he
was able to persevere and achieve at high
levels despite the overt racism in American
sports and society. Born in 1919
to sharecroppers Millie and Jerry Robinson,
his mother taught him at a young age to
combat racism by using his talents.
Jackie's means of showcasing his talents
became sports. While attending
UCLA, Robinson excelled in basketball,
baseball, track & field and football,
subsequently earning varsity letters in
all four sports. This accomplishment
had been the first to be obtained by any
athlete at the university.
college, Robinson played semi-professional
football in Hawaii. Following that
he was drafted to WW II. While
serving he became an officer at Fort Riley
in Kansas. This experience sharpened
his sense of racial injustice, so he spoke
assertively about the unjust conditions
that African Americans were subjected
to. Robinson was court-martialed
for refusing to sit in the rear of an
army vehicle. He was later reinstated
but soon discharged in 1944.
it was just one team at first, but Jackie's
performance made the world recognize that
black peoples and especially, Negro League
players could perform exceptionally well
(a fact already well-known by national
leagues' players and teams as most got
a taste during barnstorming games in the
off-season). Jackie was charged for being
conservative in his older years, but he
made his statement and it has and will
continue to resonate forever. A shoutout
must be given to Dodgers General Manager
Branch Rickey and shortstop Pee Wee Reese.
Rickey was the first GM with the guts
to sign a Negro player to a major league
ball club and Reese, the Georgia born
shortstop, defended Robinson at games
like they were the same color, imagine
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