Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nothing Like What Jackie Robinson Delt With

My dad's hero, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson and his family

As the first African American to play on a U S Men’s Lacrosse National Team in 1990, I now feel a kind of kinship with Jackie Robinson (without the threats and abuse he suffered so I didn’t have to endure so much hardship). But what’s interesting is that I am more conscious of being the first African American on a National team now then back in 1990. The discipline, time, and effort I put forth to make the 1990 team helped me a great deal as I returned to the campus of Gettysburg College as a coach, graduate assistant at the Center for Intercultural Advancement, and graduate student in history at Shippensburg University in the fall of 1990. My dad once shared a story with me before he died about how the pastor of the local AMEZ church in his home town, a real civil rights champion for the black community in the Tarrytowns, in Westchester County, New York in the 1940s and 1950s contacted Robinson to come to town. This minister wanted him to come and help end segregation in the Tarrytown YMCA so that African American residents in both towns could enjoy the facilities. Robinson came and used his star power as a pro baseball player to persuade the Y's board to integrate the facility. Today my family are members of that YMCA, I exerciset there four days week, and enjoy family swim in the pool with my children.

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