What '42' Might Forget About Jackie Robinson

The Nation's Dave Zirin says that he'll watch the film with an open mind, but he worries about the aspects of the legendary black baseball player's life that might have been left on the cutting-room floor.

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Jackie Robinson (STR/Getty Images)

The Nation's Dave Zirin says that he'll watch the Jackie Robinson film with an open mind, but he worries about the aspects of the legendary black baseball player's life that might have been left on the cutting-room floor:

... However, here in advance are five aspects of Jackie Robinson's tumultuous, politically complicated life story I fear won't make the film's final cut.

1. Branch Rickey was no saint. Based upon previews, it certainly appears that the hero of 42 will be not only Jackie Robinson, but Brooklyn Dodgers boss Branch Rickey played by Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford. Yet Rickey, while brave in bringing Robinson to the majors, hopefully will not be exempt from criticism. He is what Melissa Harris-Perry would call "an imperfect ally." Rickey was responsible for Robinson's entry in the majors. He also bears a great deal of weight for the implosion of the Negro Leagues, after Robinson made his debut in 1947 ...

2. Testifying against Paul Robeson. The most high profile political event in Jackie Robinson's life is almost certainly not going to be in this movie. It was 1949, and Robinson took part in what he called "the greatest regret of my life," testifying against perhaps the most famous African-American in the country, the singer, actor and communist-aligned activist Paul Robeson, in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee ...

3. The role of Lester "Red" Rodney and the Daily Worker newspaper. Speaking of Communists, without the radical Reds, it's highly likely that Jackie Robinson never gets the chance to break the color line. Lester Rodney, the sports editor for the US Communist Party’s Daily Worker paper from 1936 to 1958, launched a high profile labor-based campaign to integrate baseball in the 1930s. (Like thousands of others, Rodney left the party in 1958 when the extent of the crimes of Joseph Stalin were revealed.) ...

4. Jackie Robinson: Republican? Whether the powers behind 42 are Republican or Democrat, tackling Jackie's own politics are both an education as well as somewhat embarrassing for both parties. Robinson was a Republican for most of his life and people like former RNC chair Michael Steele have raised this in speeches as a way to highlight the party's historical roots in the black community -- as well as a way to deny the present evidence of racism ...

Read Dave Zirin's entire piece at the Nation.

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