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Jackie Robinson was a sharecropper’s son born in southern Georgia in 1919.

Nearly sixty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, racial relations were governed – in the north, as well as the south, by the doctrine of “separate but equal,” that did, in fact, separate the races, but never achieved equality.

When Robinson became the first black major league baseball player in 1947, there was a question as to whether he would be able to stay at the same hotel as his white teammates on road trips.

Colin Kaepernick, born to an unwed 19-year-old mother left destitute when his father abandoned her, was adopted by a white couple, attended college on a football scholarship and was drafted by both the MLB and NFL.

Now, in addition to sitting on the bench both as a back-up quarterback and as a protest, he is also sitting on a six-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers, worth up to $126 million, including $54 million in potential guarantees, and $13 million fully guaranteed.

But Al Sharpton, the race-baiting activist known for staging elaborate hoaxes to create racial unrest, says Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem at a 49ers’ game reminds him of Robinson.

Sharpton cites a passage in the baseball great’s autobiography when Robinson told his co-author, As I write this twenty years [after my MLB debut], I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I know that I am a black man in a white world.”

But the passage was written in the present tense – in 1972, in the era when the raised fists of black athletes drew attention at the Olympics and riots raged throughout the U.S.

There is no evidence that Robinson ever sat during the anthem.

Curt Schilling, himself a baseball great, sees it differently.

“When you hear people… comparing Colin Kaepernick to Jackie Robinson, that’s a special kind of stupid. Jackie Robinson and what African-Americans went through to become major-league ball players – that’s the definition of racism and oppression, the things they lived and endured.”

In fact, Robinson earned praise and respect for the way he handled himself in the difficult years when baseball was desegregated.

Kaepernick could take a page out of Robinson’s playbook.

 

 

 

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