Jackie Robinson Day Logo 42

On this day in 1947, Jackie Robinson becomes the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball.

Robinson joined the army in 1942 as a second lieutenant. He was honorably discharged despite being court-martialed in 1944 for protesting instances of racial discrimination during his service.

In 1945, Branch Rickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, recruited Robinson to join one of the Dodgers’s farm teams.

When he was called up to the Majors he soon became a star infielder and outfielder as well as the National League’s Rookie of the Year. Then, in 1949, Robinson was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player and batting champ.

Noble Purpose

“Rickey’s faith told him that injustice had to be fought wherever it was found. As for Jackie Robinson, he believed that God had chosen him for this noble purpose. And he knew that if he committed himself to doing this great thing, God would give him the strength he needed to see it through.”
– The Secret of Jackie Robinson’s Greatness: Turning the Other Cheek, By Eric Metaxas, April 15, 2016

“God built me to last” is a line from the 2013 Jackie Robinson biopic 42.

Jackie Robinson Day Logo

 

 

MLK Washington Monument

On this day in 1969, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., then is sentenced to 99 years in prison. Interestingly, Ray was born on this day in 1928.

King’s legacy as a leader endures because of Who he followed. The following quotes exemplify the essence of his life and his message:

“Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.”

King’s King

Finally, King spoke these words as he concluded his last sermon, delivered the day before he was shot and killed:

“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. … I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington D.C. Monument

Sara Margru Kinson

On this day in 1841, the Supreme Court rules on the mutiny staged by African slaves aboard the Amistad. The had been illegally forced into slavery, and so, are free under American law.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States (1825-1829) was part of the Africans’ defense team. He argued that they “were entitled to all the kindness and good offices due from a humane and Christian nation.” Read more about that, HERE.

It was not until November 1841, that the thirty-five Amistad survivors sailed back to Africa, accompanied by several missionaries. Abolitionists had cared for them in the interim.

Sarah and Sierra

Margru, one of those survivors, was just a child when she taken aboard the ship as a slave. When she returned to Sierra Leone she served as an evangelical missionary, with the name Sarah Margru Kinson. Then, in 1846, Sarah became the only Amistad captive to return to the United States where she studied at Ohio’s Oberlin College. In fact, she was the first female international student in America. Finally, in 1849, she returned to the mission she helped to establish in Sierra Leone, this time, as a teacher.

Sarah Margru Kinson Amistad

 

Dred Scott photograph circa 1857

On this day in 1820, President James Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise. The bill attempted to equalize the number of slave-holding states and free states in the country. Missouri, and that very Compromise would become pivotal in the Dred Scott Decision, issued also on this day, in 1857.

The United States Supreme Court was divided along slavery and antislavery lines, but had a majority of Southern justices. Thus, the Court ruled the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. Ultimately, the court decided that Dred Scott had no legal right to request his freedom.

Even so, following the Dred Scott decision, Frederick Douglass urged his audiences to “walk by faith, not by sight.”

It will cease to be divided

Then, in June of 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech centered on the Dred Scott case.  The words of Jesus, as recorded in the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, mark Lincoln’s famous “house divided” speech:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (emphasis added)
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
Have we no tendency to the latter condition?
Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination — piece of machinery so to speak — compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision.”

From this speech alone Lincoln’s appreciation for the Bible is clear. Still, another quote from Lincoln about “this great book” inspired our “Lincoln Bible” shirt.

Dred Scott photograph circa 1857