On January 22, we lost a great American and a great human being. Henry “Hank” Aaron is best known for breaking the career home-run record of baseball legend, Babe Ruth. He should also be remembered and honored for his strength of character and his commitment to civil rights and equal justice for all Americans.
Hark Aaron had to deal with systemic racism and white privilege his whole life, from his childhood in Alabama to his pursuit of the Babe’s record and beyond. He met these challenges with remarkable courage, dignity, and grace.
Sports figures often try to insulate themselves from real world problems. We can all be grateful that Mr. Aaron took “the road less traveled,” as did Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente (baseball), Jim Brown (football), Muhammad Ali (boxing), and Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball). Colin Kaepernick, NBA players, WNBA players, and others have picked up the torch. The march continues, with a fierce resolve and undeterred by opposing forces, for the noble cause of liberty and justice for all.
When succeeding generations of Americans (sports fans and non-sports fans alike) look to role models for inspiration, these phenomenal athletes would be excellent candidates.