Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Tonight, 42, a movie that tells the story of Jackie Robinson, will be released in theatres. As a huge sports fan, I have many reasons to thank Jackie Robinson. For those who may not know, Jackie Robinson was the first African American athlete to play along side whites in professional sports.

Without him, we may not be watching some of the most incredible athletes of our time excel in their sports. Imagine the NBA without LeBron, Duran, Carmelo and Kobe, who Jackie paved the way for. The game of golf definitely wouldn’t be the same without arguably the greatest and most fierce competitor of all time, Tiger Woods.

The biggest lesson I think we can all take away from Jackie is perseverance.

It wasn’t just African Americans who Jackie made it possible for. You might recall a man by the name of Jeremy Lin, who took the sports world by storm last year when he came out of nowhere to dominate the league for a short period of time. What Jackie did affected much more than just the world of sports though.

Going to school with so many different races and cultures, it is hard to imagine a time where only whites were allowed on campus. Many of my friends are of other races and I can’t imagine my life without them. As a white male, I may not be able to relate to what civil rights activists such as Jackie did for minorities, but I can rejoice in the fact as much as anyone else that we had people before us that went through very difficult times to make the world a better place.

Had Jackie, along with others, never stepped up to the plate, pun fully intended, and fought for civil rights, it is very possible that minorities would still not be treated anywhere close to the white man. As terrible as it sounds, racism still exists today, but I think we can all agree that it is not to the extent that it was in the past.

Imagine the NBA without LeBron, Duran, Carmelo and Kobe, who Jackie paved the way for.

In a society where the cast of Jersey Shore is considered celebrities, I’m thankful that Hollywood is producing 42 to honor Jackie. The biggest lesson I think we can all take away from Jackie is perseverance.

Although he went through very difficult times, and may have wanted to at times, Jackie never gave up. He knew that what he was doing was a lot more than just playing baseball. If Jackie hadn’t been hated and threatened by many people at the time for what he was doing, I don’t think he would be as appreciated as he is today.

As many of us here on Tech’s campus strive to make a difference in this world, I think it is important for us to remember that it won’t always be easy. There will be people who tell you that you won’t be able to change anything. You may be hated by people who are in love with the status quo, but when the going gets rough, we can all look at Jackie and know that someone has been there before, that he fought the battles, and that he persevered through troubling times even when all odds were stacked against him. Jackie could have just given up, but he didn’t. For that, Mr. Robinson, I will be always be thankful.