In the terrible wake of the devastating quake in Haiti, we have heard this about long-time Beacon friend and supporter, author Edwidge Danticat, who was interviewed for this story about Haitian-Americans waiting for news of loved ones:
Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-American author whose books about the
country have won the National Book Award and the Pushcart Prize,
gathered family and friends at her Miami home, which has become
something of a command center.
"Some people are online, some are watching CNN, some are listening to
Haitian radio," she said late Tuesday night. "There's a huge sense of
helplessness about it. You want to go there, but you just have to wait.
I think the hardest part is the lack of information."
She said that for years, Haitians wondered with trepidation what would
happen if an earthquake hit.
"Life is already so fragile in Haiti, and to have this on such a massive
scale, it's unimaginable how the country will be able to recover from
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Today's post is form Amy Seidl, author of
Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World. Seidl has taught in the environmental
studies programs at Middlebury College and the University of Vermont.
She is currently a research scholar at Middlebury and is at work on a book about adapting to climate change. She lives with her family in
Huntington, Vermont, in a solar- and wind-powered home.
Before the holidays, I attended the Copenhagen Climate talks, if virtually. From my Vermont office I fed hourly on an array of media: streaming video, updated reports, panel discussions, protest vigils, and live feeds from the delegates' plenaries. It was as good as being there minus the jet lag and Danish hospitality.
What's clear from my desk-chair participation is this: the connection between the final accord and contemporary climate science is almost nil, it's not even a gap: it's a gulf.
The scientific consensus is that 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon dioxide is the safe upper limit to ensure life on the planet. Simple really. By making 350 our target, nations commit to collectively reverse the upward trend of emissions and safeguard the planet–and human and nonhuman life–against extreme and perilous effects, a rational and scientifically-grounded approach.
In contrast, the outcome at Copenhagen was that nations "took note"–a kind of formal nod–of an agreement in which no emissions targets are listed, no time tables are set and, while two degree Celsius increase in temperature is listed as a goal, no one is held legally accountable to it. Given the impotence of this pact, we can assume that the trajectory of annual increases in atmospheric carbon will continue. Indeed, the U.S.'s offer to reduce emissions by a mere 4% by 2020–when a 40% decline is necessary to achieve 350 ppm–is further evidence of our lack of belief in the science. The gap expands.
On Christmas Day, Yemeni student Umar Farouk
Abdulmutallib nearly blew up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit using three
ounces of the explosive PETN sewn into his underwear. Only a faulty detonator
prevented more than 300 people from perishing. As is so often the case in
instances like this, the only real casualty of the abortive terrorist attack
will be personal privacy.
Just a few days after the attack, the Dutch government
announced that all passengers emplaning for the United States will be required
to go through a "full body scanner." The more technical term is a
"backscatter X-ray," a device that uses high energy X-rays to scan
under an individual's clothing and reveal whether they are concealing any
weapons or contraband. If Abdulmutallib had been required to go through such a
device, security experts say, it is likely that technicians would have detected
the presence of the PETN in his underclothes.
Since the 9/11 tragedy, the Transportation Security
Administration has been pushing for the installation of full body scanners
around the nation, but the roll-out has been slow. Currently, just 19 airports
are using a total of 40 machines, although TSA has another 150 ready for
installation in the coming year. The agency is also planning to buy an
additional 300 machines, each of which costs between $130,000 and $170,000.
The devices have sparked opposition from a variety of
quarters, chiefly due to the fact that the backscatter x-ray technology is
capable of producing highly detailed images of the body of each person who
steps into the machine. The images are so accurate that the American Civil
Liberties Union describes the experience as a "virtual strip
search." A European child rights advocate believes that the
images are so revealing, in fact, that scans of teens and pre-adolescents could
qualify as child pornography.
"We are either going to spend the money now and provide the services that our children require or we are going to pay a big price at a later date when these children are part of the adult criminal justice system."
That's how Judge Edwina Richardson Mendelson, a New York family court judge, put it to NBC New York, commenting on a story about the need to help kids mired in the juvenile justice system.
Certainly other experts would agree. The lack of damage control for harm already done to these children along with the damage the juvenile justice system inflicts on them can only make things worse for our society as time goes on.
But as sound as that reasoning is both from an economic point of view as well as a humane one, treatment and care for troubled young people doesn't happen much in this country. We spend more money locking kids up, punishing them-- in many cases for the failures of their fathers and their mothers, their neighborhoods and their communities, their churches and their schools--than getting them the help they need to pull themselves up out of the sinkhole of the streets.
OAKLAND, CA -- Cesar Cota was the first in his family to attend college. "Now it's hard to achieve my dream," he says, "because the state put higher fees on us, and cut services and classes." Cota, a student at LA City College, was encouraged by the internship program of the LA College Faculty Guild to describe the human cost of budget cuts in he community college system.
David Robinson, who's worked since he was 14, hoped he'd get automotive mechanic training, and a good job at the end of it. "But by cutting these programs and raising fees," he says, "you're cutting opportunity for a lot of people who need it."
Another endangered student is Tina Vinaja, a mother of three teenagers whose husband took a weekend job to help pay her tuition hikes. Monica Mejia, a single mom, wants to get out of the low-wage trap. "Without community college," she says, "I'll end up getting paid minimum wage. I can't afford the fee hikes. I can barely make ends meet now."
LA City College even suspended its sports programs for a year. The school had a legendary basketball program that gave low-income students a pathway out of poverty. JaQay Carlyle says City College basketball sent him to UC Davis and on to law school.
Yesterday, President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. We turned for comment on the President's lecture to Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and the former chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Berry is the co-editor (with former Clinton speechwriter Josh Gottheimer) of a forthcoming Beacon Press book about the speeches of Barack Obama.
The Nobel Lecture was an admixture of persuasive rhetoric and soaring phrases, reminiscent of the campaign, and the more staid, measured cadences of his speeches during the presidency. At the beginning, he gave the usual nod to New England antislavery minister Theodore Parker, as quoted by Martin Luther King, to bending history toward justice. As befits a war President, about half the speech was about war. Even more space was devoted to war, if one counts the peace discussion, which was mostly about avoiding the need for war.
The president, further rid himself of any need to apologize for accepting the Peace prize while accelerating War, by noting that Norway is one of the nations engaged in Afghanistan.
There were many obvious shadings and omissions. He directly embraced the protestors in Iran and fighters for human rights around the world. Darfur and Congo received a mention but the humanitarian crises proceed as severely there or more than when he was inaugurated. Also, his praise for political participation ignored the United States support for the coup and ejection of a democratically elected president in Honduras, which makes one wonder whether to expect coups elsewhere in Latin America.
Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Speech December 10, 2009 (Part 1 of 4)
With the war in Afghanistan occupying the news, Congress, and President Obama, we offer this dispatch from J. Malcolm Garcia, author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul. Garcia has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star and a regular contributor to the Virginia Quarterly Review. His travel essays have appeared in Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Non-Required Reading.
In August, I returned to Afghanistan for the seventh time since Sept. 11, 2001, to cover the presidential election in which 41 candidates were vying for the top post. When I arrived it was a lovely 100 plus degrees in Kabul, and the traffic was worse than ever. This is what happens when a city built to house 1.5 million people takes on 3 million. Unless it was absolutely necessary to take an automobile, I walked with my translator everywhere I went. It could take up to three hours to drive what was at most a 30 minute trip just two years ago.
I could not go alone anywhere outside Kabul. Wardak, Logar and Ghazni provinces, minutes to a few hours outside the city, are now under Taliban control. So all the traffic and reconstruction activity in Kabul was weird; sort of an illusion of security and progress that in reality doesn't exist at all.
Few addresses have gained so much notoriety so quickly as 133 C Street SE in Washington, D.C. The slim brick townhouse, nestled on a quiet street behind the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, was recently outed as an enclave of fundamentalist Washington insiders by Jeff Sharlet, author of The
Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, and a contributing editor to Harper's and Rolling Stone. (Editor's note: Sharlet is also co-editor, with Peter Manseau, ofBeliever Beware: First-Person Dispatches from the Margins of Faith.) With typical Christian duality, C Street has reportedly been a place for some members of Congress both to hold assignations with non-spousal partners and to seek refuge from them.
Last month, I stayed half a block from 133 C Street while in Washington doing research for a book. It was like bumping into Dennis Kucinich in a DC bookstore (which also happened during my visit); buildings, like people, can take on a weird sense of familiarity when you've seen them repeatedly on television or the Internet. As I walked or jogged past the townhouse each morning, it occurred to me that C Street is neatly located at the intersection of my last two books, The Court and the Cross: The Religious Right's Crusade to Reshape the Supreme Court and American
Privacy: The Four-Hundred-Year History of Our Most Contested Right. The recent spotlight shining through the curtained windows of C Street begs an important question: can we defend a pluralistic democracy from religious zealots without critically wounding core American values, such as freedom of religion and the right to privacy? Not coincidentally, that's a question that has become particularly pressing since 9/11.
Photo of the C Street house that is home to "The Family," taken by the author.
So just how far into C Street should the media (or governmental) spotlight shine? The answer lies in a bit of constitutional topology.
In its various decisions on privacy, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is a zone of privacy that surrounds each of us, a zone limned in large part by the rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution. For private individuals, that zone of privacy is a portable sphere that surrounds us and protects us, to varying degrees, from unreasonable governmental interference. But for elected officials, like the Congressional denizens of C Street, the zone of privacy is more like a toroid, or doughnut, hanging around their midsection.
Like many Americans, I have followed closely the story of the arrest of Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., by Cambridge police officer Sgt. James Crowley for disorderly conduct. This is, as Dr. Gates said during a CNN interview on July 22, "an educational opportunity for America."
Two significant messages loom large in this educational opportunity. First, based on the wildly different responses to this story-- from writers black and white, conservative and liberal-- can we all agree to set aside the bogus notion that we are a "post-racial" nation? This case is about race. We're talking about it. We disagree.
Separate from the facts in this particular case, racial profiling is alive and well in America. According to the ACLU report The Persistence Of Racial And Ethnic Profiling In The United States, released just a few weeks ago, "Indeed, data and anecdotal information from across the country reveal that racial minorities continue to be unfairly victimized when authorities investigate, stop, frisk, or search them based upon subjective identity-based characteristics rather than identifiable evidence of illegal activity. Victims continue to be racially or ethnically profiled while they work, drive, shop, pray, travel, and stand on the street."
Second, most white people remain largely oblivious to the systemic racism that results in the regular occurrence of such incidents all over our nation. It isn't "in our face," doesn't appear to impact us, and we've been socialized not to see it. Most white people consider ourselves to be not racist. We have good intentions toward people of color. But good intentions are irrelevant when the outcomes are unjust and inequitable.
Lillian B. Rubin is with the Institute for the Study of Social
Change, University of California, Berkeley. She is a sociologist,
psychologist, and author of numerous books, the latest of which is 60 on Up: The Truth about Aging in the Twenty-First Century. She also writes for Dissent magazine, and this piece originally posted on their website here.
Will somebody out there say it please: The hearings that were
supposed to provide insight into Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s suitability
for the United States Supreme Court were a disgrace and an outrage. Not
just the Republican bloviators posturing for the cameras and toadying
to their right-wing constituency, not just the Democratic yea-sayers
singing the judge’s praises and feeding her softballs and sweet talk,
but Sotomayer herself.
I have no doubt that Sonia Sotomayor is a remarkable woman, nor do I
fail to appreciate that hers is an inspiring story. But am I the only
one who thinks the repeated—and seemingly obligatory—references to her
past from both sides of the aisle were more a self-congratulatory bow
to American exceptionalism than to Judge Sotomayor and her personal
I don’t mean that America doesn’t deserve kudos for a social order
that still makes such a climb possible, although far less likely than
when I grew up in the same place and similar circumstances as Judge
Sotomayor. But it would sit easier if there had been even one voice—if
not on the committee then in the media—to remind us that she’s
one-of-a-kind, or at best, one-of-a-few, and that most of her former
neighbors still live in the South Bronx, still scrabble for the food
and the rent, and still suffer the effects of the prejudice and
discrimination that has dogged their lives.
My real question, however, is: Where was that savvy woman her
friends and colleagues describe, the one they say is smart, warm, and
funny, the one who has had such a brilliant career and is now about to
ascend to its pinnacle? Why was she in hiding? Yes, I know, she’d
been briefed and rehearsed until her brain probably was rendered
incapable of spontaneous thought. But why did she have to back away
from truths she’d spoken so eloquently in the past? Would it have
really have hurt her confirmation chances if, when questioned about her
“wise Latina woman” speech, she had said, “Yes, of course, my life
experiences as a poor Latina woman have a bearing on who I am today
and, therefore, on how I see the facts of a case. With respect,
senator, so do your experiences as a privileged white man influence
what you see and how you judge it.”
If you can't see the video in your reader, click here.
Kate Clinton, author of I Told You So, is a faith-based, tax-paying, America-loving political humorist and family entertainer. With a career spanning over 25 years, Kate Clinton has worked through economic booms and busts, Disneyfication and Walmartization, gay movements and gay markets, lesbian chic and queer eyes, and ten presidential inaugurals. She still believes that humor gets us through peacetime, wartime and scoundrel time. You can see this and many other vlogs at kateclinton.com.
You can also check out Kate on the Progressive this week "reviewing" Bruno.
Ever since Barack Obama's inauguration in January, there's been talk of a looming policy confrontation with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office in March, over Israel's settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Headlines like "U.S., Israel square off over settlement expansion" boosted hopes or worries (depending on one's viewpoint) that the U.S. would use its considerable leverage to crack down on the continuing growth of the settlements, which are illegal under international law. At the first hint that Washington might do so, inflammatory posters popped up all over the West Bank (see this photo).
And after Obama's speech in Cairo on June 4, when he called for the settlements to stop, it seemed that the two leaders indeed were headed for a showdown over the most contentious issue in the Middle East.
Partly in response to Obama's address, a major policy speech by Netanyahu was promised. It came on June 14, struggled for lift and landed with a dull thud. "In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect," Netanyahu said. "Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other."
Some commentators made much of Netanyahu's use, for the first time ever, of the words "Palestinian state." The phrases the prime minister actually used were "armed Palestinian state" and "demilitarized Palestinian state," and pointed only to a future territory without an army, without control of its airspace, and one that provides "ironclad" security guarantees for Israel. The speech offered nothing new, and was breathtakingly ungracious to the Palestinians.
The last time I talked with Sierra Leone's war criminals in the terrorized West African country some years ago, they were swaggering, threatening, drunk or confused, and sometimes a mixture of those.
This week in a sterile, glass-enclosed courtroom in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, the swagger had gone out of three of them as they were sentenced to long prison terms for multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity. The sentences were welcomed by veteran human rights activists. "The deadly cycle of impunity is slowly being broken in Sierra Leone and West Africa," Corinne Dufka, the senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in West Africa, told me from Dakar, Senegal.
During Sierra Leone's civil war from 1991 until 2002, armed groups such as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) perpetrated a countrywide reign of brutal terror. The commanders of the RUF and various factions -- Foday Sankoh, Johnny Paul Koroma, Sam Hinga Norman, Sam "Mosquito" Bockarie -- planned and instigated serial atrocities in a nation already flat on its back. Their tools of terror included the mass rape of girls and women, forced marriage, child slavery, and mass amputations, all against a non-hostile people, their own people. The leaders fancied themselves rebels and revolutionaries, but in reality they were criminal mercenaries linked by diamond wealth to Liberia's president Charles Taylor across the eastern border.
Sankoh and his rivals in the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the Civil Defense Forces (CDF), and the West Side Boys had no recognizable political ideology, and no moral restraints. Lesser figures down the terror chain became victims themselves, such as the child soldiers who were forced to kill their families and were bound to their captors with cocaine, amphetamines and more violence. At the hands of these gangs, tens of thousands of Sierra Leoneans were killed, more than two million were displaced, and many thousands more survived with appalling physical and mental wounds.
With the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan struggling on the battlefield against a resilient insurgency and opium poppy cultivation on the rise, Navy admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently suggested that the United States should import the counterinsurgency and counternarcotics model currently being employed in Colombia to Afghanistan. "I think many of us from all over the world can learn from what has happened with respect to the very successful developments of Plan Colombia," Mullen stated, adding that the counterinsurgency approach used in Colombia would be applicable to Afghanistan.
Not surprisingly, Mullen and others who advocate transferring the Plan Colombia model to Afghanistan point to improved security in Colombia's major population centers and a dramatic reduction in murders and kidnappings in recent years. While a significant percentage of the Colombian population has indeed benefitted from these successes, Mullen and others conveniently ignore the humanitarian crisis that has resulted from this establishment of "security" and Plan Colombia's complete failure as a counternarcotics initiative.
Today's post is from Philip C. Winslow, author of Victory For Us Is to See You Suffer: In the West Bank with the Palestinians and the Israelis. Winslow has been a journalist and foreign correspondent for more than twenty years; he has worked for the Christian Science Monitor, the Toronto Star, Maclean's magazine, ABC radio news, CTV News, and CBC radio. He also served in two United Nations peacekeeping missions and spent nearly three years living in the West Bank.
What are the prospects for movement toward a Palestinian state while Benjamin Netanyahu is prime minister of a rightist, nationalist Israeli government? Many Palestinians and Israelis sense a gloomy déjà vu. The historian Avi Shlaim described the beginning of the hard-line Likud leader’s first term, from 1996 to 1999.
"As prime minister Netanyahu was not as bad as people thought he would be when he was competing for the top post – he was much, much worse. Within a very short time he succeeded in alienating most of his countrymen and all of Israel's allies abroad," Shlaim wrote in his excellent 2007 biography Lion of Jordan: the Life of King Hussein in War and Peace.
A few months after taking office in 1996, Netanyahu provocatively ordered the opening of a Hasmonean tunnel near the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City; rumors spread that the explosion had damaged the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. Shlaim wrote of the consequences:
By giving the order to blast open a new entrance to the 2,000-year-old tunnel, Netanyahu also blasted away the last faint hopes of a peaceful dialogue with the Palestinians. The action set off a massive outburst of Palestinian anger and ignited the flames of confrontation . . . the violence intensified and engulfed the entire West Bank and Gaza. In three days of bloody clashes 14 Israeli soldiers and 54 Palestinians died."
Although Netanyahu obstructed the Oslo process in those years, it's possible that this time around he could strategically shift to the center, if he can stave off the collapse of his coalition government. Much may depend on how he responds to pressure (if any) from President Obama and his regional point man, veteran diplomat and former senator George Mitchell, who has traveled this road before.
Today's post is from Reshma Melwani, Beacon’s Foreign Rights Assistant. Since joining Beacon a little over a year ago, Reshma has overseen countless translation deals; this post explores some of her more inspiring deals and their significance in today's world. When she’s not selling foreign rights for Beacon, Reshma works as a freelance writer in Boston.
During his inauguration, President Barack Obama spoke of the strength of our "patchwork heritage," describing America as "a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers... shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth." Weeks later, these words still reverberate within me.
Perhaps, because, like my country, I too am a product of a "patchwork heritage"-- purposefully shaped by many cultures, molded by many languages.
I spent monsoon summers in Bombay, watching my aunts bargain for glass bangles and silk saris at bustling bazaars. I enjoyed warm winters with my maternal grandparents in Indonesia. Rather than a bowl of cereal, I woke up to a steaming bowl of spicy fried rice topped with an over-easy egg. I cherish my memories of lazy afternoons in Spain, taking a siesta on the cool tile floor alongside my paternal grandparents.
I've worshipped in Catholic churches, Islamic mosques, and temples both Hindu and Buddhist. I've grown up with an agnostic mother, a meditating father, and everything else in between. I am who I am precisely because of my "patchwork heritage."
But even in my day-to-day life in Boston, as a foreign rights liaison at Beacon Press, I see President Obama's words materialize. I bear witness to the steps the international publishing community is taking to embrace other cultures and promote tolerance.
Belatedly, I congratulate you on winning the election. Belatedly, I offer my condolences for the death of your beloved grandmother. Hopefully not belatedly, I implore you to consider your role in Palestine.
Though I try to avoid watching the news, last night I forced myself to look at coverage of Gaza. I started with CNN or Reuters, and though at that point over 200 Palestinians had been killed, the footage I saw was of the funeral for the one Israeli who died. I watched several men carry a coffin. I saw attractive women crying. It was both public and private and one felt their grief. The message was clear: one Israeli death is one too many whereas more than 200 Palestinian deaths are in a different category.
So I decided to watch al-Jazeera. Do you ever watch it? Shirin Abu Aqle, who has been reporting from the Occupied Territories for the last eight or so years, is looking very, very tired. I forced myself to watch the scenes of destruction, the ambulances, the men and women slumped over the bodies of their family members. I forced myself to listen to the screams, the wailing.
I forced myself to watch these images because I feel that as long as my country is supporting the country that has caused this, I am guilty.
The American literary establishment is crying foul. The comments of Swedish Academy permanent secretary Horace Engdahl suggesting that an American is unlikely to win the Nobel Prize in Literature this week have provoked great patriotic upswellings. Engdahl suggested that the U.S. literary establishment is "too isolated, too insular. They don't translate enough and don't really participate in the big dialogue of literature. That ignorance is restraining."
Did this observation give us pause, make us hesitate, push us to ask for clarification? Indeed not. Americans don't take insults like this easily and the media took a quick break from following Sarah Palin's every utterance to chatter about the dis from these upstart Europeans. But, you know, Horace Engdahl might just have something there. We do translate too little of world literature – complaining, apparently, that such works would not sit well with the American literary sensibility. We do not really, as a culture, betray much curiosity about the world.
Sometimes, you just can't be cynical. Sometimes – even though you know that we still have a long way to go, that the work of achieving a racially just society is far from over, even though you don't subscribe to the messianic fervor that sometimes surrounds talk of about this presidential campaign – sometimes you just have to stop for a moment, and acknowledge the extraordinariness of this moment in American history.
Sometimes, as the old spiritual goes, "my soul looks back and wonders, how I got over." And so I'm taking a moment to reflect on an event that I wished my father had lived to see. I've watched conventions since 1968. I consider myself politically savvy, intellectually gifted, skeptical and pragmatic. But when Michelle Obama and her daughters were standing up on that stage with fresh perms, looking like my sister and her daughters, and when Barack Obama was nominated to be the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party by acclamation Wednesday night, I got a little emotional.
Unlike so many others, I'm not thinking so much about 1963 and King's "I Have a Dream" speech today. Instead, today I'm thinking about 1964. Forty-four years ago, the Democratic Party refused to seat that great voting rights activist, leader and former sharecropper Fannie Lou Hamer on the floor of the convention.
Oregon—where I live—held its primary election on May 20. For the first time since I moved here for college in 1972, the primary actually meant something to the presidential contest. Always in the past our primary is so late in the game that the presidential candidates for both parties have already been crowned. This exceedingly white state handed a man of color an 18-point margin of victory over a woman. That same day, far across the country in Kentucky, voters there handed that same woman a 35-point victory over the man of color.
Also that day I received an article in the mail from my father about Jackie Robinson who, while serving in the army, stationed in Texas, was court-martialed for refusing to move to the back of a bus in 1944. At UCLA a few years earlier Robinson was the first athlete to earn varsity letters in four sports (football, basketball, baseball, and track). When he enlisted in the army it was with great fanfare. Many historians believe that Robinson's trial and acquittal had a strong impact on President Harry Truman and led to his integrating the military in 1948.
Robinson first donned a Dodger uniform and trotted onto the field on April 15, 1947. Two reasons my father and I share a strong interest in Jackie Robinson are, first, we're life-long Dodger fans, and second, I was born seven years to the day after Jackie's first Dodger game.