Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon says despite their low numbers, Black MLB players need to make better use of their celebrity platform.
ESPN’s Outside The Lines host Ryan Smith interviewed the late great Jackie Robinson’s daughter Sharon today as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Robinson’s life; Centennial celebration that will last throughout 2019.
With the increased number of athletes across the landscape speaking out against social injustices, Black MLB players, once invaluable warriors in America’s Civil Rights movement, comprise less than 8 percent of the total MLB rosters and don’t participate in social activism with the frequency of their counterparts in other major sports.
Smith asked Robinson her thoughts on the current state of African-American MLB players and their commitment to activism.
In the past, Sharon has said that It’s difficult for African-Americans to speak out on issues of racial injustice because they’re small in numbers. She also believes there’s a magnificent wave of activism by athletes in general right now and baseball players should be sure not to end up on the wrong side of history.
"… there’s no better time to look back into history and see how much has changed but how much work still needs to be done.” – Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter, via @washingtonpost: https://t.co/kyLS6e9ZXJ
— Museum of the City of NY (@MuseumofCityNY) January 30, 2019
Adam Jones was called the N-word and had peanuts thrown at him in Fenway Park in 2017. In 2018, Milwaukee Brewers star pitcher Josh Hader was ordered into sensitivity training after a trove of racist, sexist and homophobic Tweets he made in high school were uncovered during his first All-Star weekend.
Those incidents plus the numerous police killings of unarmed blacks and Colin Kaepernick’s blackballing should have been enough to inspire the roughly 70 African-American MLB players to be more active with social issues.
Smith asked her what she thinks is needed to change that?
“Well I think that they’re (Black MLB players) going to be encourage or mortified or whatever you want to say by the fact that athletes in general are speaking up and kids in general are speaking up and woman are speaking up,” Sharon Robinson said. “So I know that they will find a way for their (MLB) clubs to support that issue because it’s not really about speaking up its about taking action and working towards change
My dad was a player…but when he retired he went right into the Civil Rights Movement and used his celebrity to raise money for organizations and churches that were being bombed. So there’s lots of ways athletes can use their celebrity to do good.”
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) December 29, 2017
Oakland A’s backup catcher Bruce Maxwell, an African American whose family has military roots, was the only MLB player to take a knee in protest of police brutality and offensive comments by President Trump.
Robinson says it’s imperative that other MLB players of color join together in shedding light on the travesties within our society.
“I’ve been with MLB baseball now for 23 years,” Robinson said, “and players have been coming with me on school visits and bring kids into the ballparks so I see how important their activism is with kids and why that’s important… so I’m encouraged that this a trend going forward. There are so many issues of importance out there and we have to make sure people pay attention to them. “