The lamentable rectitude that our current caste of millionaires exhibits in these turbulent times is in sharp contrast to the social and political activism of some of the greatest names in sports of earlier generations. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali spring quickly to mind, but even they pale in comparison to somebody like Jackie Robinson.In today's world we tend to scoff at "celebrities" who get mixed up in politics, but this letter and O'Connell reminds us that it can actually be quite powerful to hear a celebrity voice who can keep light on an important subject. And the subject matter Jackie write about is right on point and an important reminder why civil rights can never wait.
It seems likely that the combination of Robinson’s fierce will and integrity combined with his almost mystical biography to create a persona no more intimidated by presidents and potentates than he was by opposing catchers when he was on the basepaths.
“Seventeen million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change. We want to enjoy now the rights that we feel we are entitled to as Americans. This we cannot do unless we pursue aggressively goals which all other Americans achieved over 150 years ago.
As the chief executive of our nation, I respectfully suggest that you unwittingly crush the spirit of freedom in Negroes by constantly urging forbearance and give hope to those pro-segregation leaders like Governor Faubus who would take from us even those freedoms we now enjoy.