I think I've found one at last: Jackie Robinson. Yup! The baseball player, first African-American in the Major Leagues. I just finished reading his autobiography, I Never Had it Made, and while I know that most autobiographies need to be taken with a grain (or shaker) of salt, this one contained far less hubris than most I've read. I'll try to find some other books to read about him too, to see if my image of him seems to be a good one. So far I see him as an honest man, a dedicated Christian husband and father--someone who stood up for what he believed in, and was willing to endure all sorts of abuses and insults just to aid his fellow black people to break down the barriers white society had erected. And he also didn't gloss over the mistakes and errors in judgment that he made throughout his athletic, business, and political careers. The chapter in which he discussed the death of his son, Jackie Jr, moved me to tears several times.
So here are two things he says in this book (Robinson, Jackie with Alfred Duckett. I Never Had it Made. New York: Putnam, 1972.) that I really really like:
"The first freedom for all people is freedom of choice. I want to live in a neighborhood of my choice where I can afford to pay the rent. I want to send my children to school where I believe they will develop best. I want the freedom to rise as high in my career as my ability indicates. I want to be free to follow the dictates of my own mind and conscience without being subject to the pressures of any man, black or white. I think that is what most people of all races want." (pg 103)
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." (265)
I may elaborate more on this later. For now, I'm tired, it's been a hard day's night, and Cowboy agrees it's time for sleep.
(Originally posted on Hamlette's Soliloquy on Apr. 26, 2005.)