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Reflection from Jackie Robinson


Jackie Robinson NEW PHOTOChange does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Death of Evil upon the Seashore,’ sermon given at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, 17 May 1956


As I grew up in Birmingham in the 1960s and ’70s, I was keenly aware of the  heroes around me and throughout the country. I was blessed to be reared by parents who were educators and valued the importance of learning. I was also blessed to have teachers in elementary school and high school who instilled in all students the significance of the contributions made by people who looked just like me.
These lessons were invaluable. But one of the greatest revelations came when I realized that the  victories of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the children’s’ marchers, Dr. A.G. Gaston, and many more didn’t just change Birmingham. They changed our nation, and made it a better place.
When we reflect  on the period of commemoration from Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday in January through African American History Month in February, some may ask, “Why Celebrate?”
First of all, African-American history is an integral part of the history of this nation and the world. From Sen. Hiram Revels and Rep. Joseph Rainey’s service in Congress in 1870 to the service of our current President Barack Obama, African Americans have set the foundation for our Democracy.
Secondly, we need to share with all children, the stories of resilience in the face of challenge, so that they know their potential for successfully overcoming life’s obstacles. In elementary and high school as I studied the lives of great men and women, I found myself believing that I too could find success.
The youth of today should be provided constant reminders of our nation’s complete history so that they can fashion a plan that sets them in place to make contributions to our great city and our great nation. This is why we celebrate.

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