Monday is "Diversity Day" for the Brooklyn Cyclones. The minor league baseball team is calling attention to the courage of Jackie Robinson after a statue of him and teammate Pee Wee Reese at their ballpark was defaced with a swastika earlier in August.
Michael Long, author of Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson’s Life After Baseball, said this isn’t the first time Jackie Robinson’s been bothered by a swastika. At a 1964 NAACP youth banquet where Robinson was a guest, a Neo-Nazi ran on stage waving a swastika flag.
Recalling the incident, Robinson later said:
I will be very honest with you. I am not non-violent in such circumstances. I felt my anger rising within me at the thought of some racist trying to create confusion at a time when serious, sober young people were trying to carry out what they believed to be their duty as young citizens and patriots. And not only was my anger rising, but I found that I was rising with every intention of letting this unexpected visitor have a good swift jab in the head.
Long said that the former Brooklyn Dodger and civil rights icon held back his fists, and later praised the small group of young people who dealt with the situation peacefully.
Diversity Day will start with a game against Staten Island at 5:30. The Cyclones are re-dedicating the statue, and screening the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 on the beach after the game.