If we step back for a moment from the toxic rhetoric of the GOP presidential race and reflect on the state of American society, and progress that’s been made, the eloquence of David Halberstam’s writings immediately come to mind.
While rereading some of his distinguished work today, I came across a passage from his essay, “History’s Man,” from the book, “Jackie Robinson: Between the Baselines,” published in 1995, that provides poignant insight into changes made in the United States. Indeed, the former Brooklyn Dodgers player a central figure in these changes, when he made his MLB debut in 1947.
“He was history’s man,” Halberstam wrote. “Nothing less. Though he came to the nation disguised as a mere baseball player, he was, arguably, the single most important American of that first post-war decade. It was not just that he was the first black to play our one showcased national sport, nor that he did it with so dazzling a combination of fire and ice, that he was in truth the black Cobb. What made him so important was the particular moment when he arrived and the fact that he stood at the exact intersection of two powerful and completely contradictory American impulses, one the impulse of darkness and prejudice, the other the impulse of idealism, the belief in the possibility of true advancement for all Americans in this democratic and meritocratic society.”
Robinson, supported by Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, conquered the past, setting the stage for the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s rise to prominence.
“The argument was over,” Halberstam concluded. “One vision of America, a cruel and self evidently crippling one, had mercifully come to an end in 1947, and another, infinitely more optimistic, had been greatly strengthened.”
Think about that and then this: Donald Trump’s vision for America.