Integration’s never easy
I recently finished reading “Opening Day,” by Jonathan Eig, which covers in exhaustive detail the first season of Jackie Robinson’s baseball career, during which he integrated the major leagues. Robinson is one of my heroes, and I have read several books about him and this watershed event. He richly deserved his 1962 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and the honor of having his uniform number retired by every major league team.
Indeed, if life had a hall of fame, I believe Robinson would be a charter inductee. Though the history of America’s civil rights movement is populated with numerous iconic figures — Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, James Meredith, the Little Rock Nine and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few — Robinson stands above them all, in my book. In part that is because the movement started with Robinson; all who came after him were empowered by his remarkable achievement. But it also is because of the fish bowl in which Robinson operated. The fortunes of an entire people rose and fell with every at-bat. That’s a lot of pressure.
Yet, Robinson handled this enormously difficult challenge not only with aplomb, but also with remarkable dignity and grace. I am certain I would not have been able to do the same if I had encountered the venomous racism that Robinson endured on a daily basis, at times from his own teammates. If I had been purposely spiked by another player, as Robinson was, there is little doubt in my mind that I would have used my Louisville Slugger for a purpose other than that for which it was designed.
It is ironic that I finished Eig’s tome on the same day that I read senior writer Donny Jackson’s June cover story that examines the convergence of IT and RF technology in the public-safety communications sector. To be sure, challenges abound, many of them cultural. Those on the RF side, which traditionally has ruled the public-safety communications roost, resent those on the IT side, who are perceived as intruders venturing into an area in which they don’t belong. In contrast, those on the IT side are entering a world they don’t really understand — and apparently they’re not getting much help from those who know the ropes. The convergence of IT and RF is not just an evolution; it’s a revolution.
If this sounds familiar, it is because the situation is analogous to the one faced by Jackie Robinson and his contemporaries after he arrived in Brooklyn in 1947. If they could handle that much more significant integration, surely the public-safety communications sector can handle this one.
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