Thoughts from the executive

July 05, 2010

Let Independence Day Mean Something

"The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time. There's not an American in this country free until every one of us is free."
Jackie Robinson

As the clock runs down on another national holiday this quote by Jackie Robinson remained stuck in my my mind the entire weekend.

Maybe it was triggered by Katie Fulhorst's moving opening thought at the San Diego Rotary Club 33 luncheon on Thursday when she delivered Patrick Henry's powerful words spoken March 23, 1775 at St. John's Henrico Parish Church in Richmond, Virginia. Henry's message to the President concluded with "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! -- I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

This certainly puts the concept of slavery into an interesting perspective.

While Independence was declared on July 4, 1776; for many, slavery's legacy still lingers for generations of American families two-hundred and thirty-four years later. When you consider Jackie Robinson's quote originated sometime between the date he became the first Black to play Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947 and his death on October 24, 1972 it does not seem that long ago.

The YMCA has long fulfilled it's promise to strengthen the foundations of community by giving back and providing support to our neighbors through social responsibility. For Jackie Robinson, it including nurturing the potential of every child and teen as a youth worker at the 135th Street YMCA in Harlem, New York for many years after that first season with Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The Butler Street Y was known as The Black City Hall of Atlanta and influenced civil rights leaders Vernon Jordan and Martin Luther King during their youth.

On May 13, 1958, Jackie Robinson like Patrick Henry wrote a letter to the President. This one was to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He called upon the Chief Executive to guarantee the Federal Government's support of black attempts to exercise rights already granted under the Constitution but in practice denied them because of white resistance.

The Jackie Robinson Family YMCA is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through the development of the spirit, mind, and body.

Freedom, Liberty, and Social Responsibility all add meaning why every day should be Independence Day for all children of God.

Follow Michael Brunker at http://twitter.com/michaelbrunker

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