I got a rare opportunity last Monday.
I had a chance to watch history twice in the same day.
Jackie Robinson, who in 1947 was used to break the color barrier in major league baseball against the wishes of a segregated society.
That morning, I woke up to find out that Jason Collins, a 7-foot center for the Washington Wizards, decided to become the first active athlete in one of America’s four major sports leagues to admit he is gay against the wishes of a skeptical society.
In a way, these two events are like seeing Haley’s Comet, which is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
It comes around once every 75 years.
Figure that it took 82 years after the Civil War ended before Robinson got his chance. It took another 66 years before Collins’ revelation.
And both brought a prevalent issue to light in the same forum, which became apparent last Monday in some of the quotations I heard. Consider:
* “I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
* “If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.”
* “I’m not goin’ anywhere! I’m right here! … God built me to last.”
* “I’m a veteran, and I’ve earned the right to be heard. I’ll lead by example …”
* “You are not the only one with something at stake here.”
* “I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. …”
* “Your enemy will be out in force. But you cannot meet him on his own low ground.”
* “As far as the reaction of fans, I don’t mind if they heckle me. I’ve been booed before. There have been times when I’ve wanted to boo myself. But a lot of ill feelings can be cured by winning.”
* “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
* “The most you can do is stand up for what you believe in. … Being genuine and honest makes me happy.”
The quotes in normal print were said by and to Robinson in “42.”