Editor's note: Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker, writer and president of BK Nation, a new national and multicultural organization focused on civic engagement and community development. He is the author of “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_powell.
By Kevin Powell, Special to CNN
(CNN) – I love baseball, deeply.
I played stickball and punchball growing up on the potholed streets of Jersey City, and dreamed of becoming a second baseman for the New York Yankees.
I hungrily digested book after book on historic and mythical figures such as Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb, and played Little League, Babe Ruth League and high school baseball.
Little did I know that Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball in the modern era, had created the possibility of dreams for black boys like me. As a child I only vaguely knew that he broke baseball's color line.
In the new film "42," this weekend's top-grossing movie, more Americans will learn about how Robinson heroically integrated Major League Baseball.
But on Jackie Robinson Day, there are fewer African-American players in the sport, and many black boys no longer aspire to play baseball.
Editor's note: Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker and author or editor of 11 books, including "Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays." E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on twitter @kevin_powell
(CNN) - My cousin Aaron abruptly typed me the news while we were texting back and forth about other matters: a Kansas City Chiefs football player killed his girlfriend, then went to the team's practice facility and committed suicide in front of his head coach and general manager. Left behind was the couple's 3-month-old daughter, who was in another room when her mother was shot multiple times. Like so many Americans, we were stunned.
We would learn later that player was Jovan Belcher, 25-year-old starting linebacker for the Chiefs, a man and an athlete spoken of in the highest regard by everyone from his high school teammates and coaches to his fellow professional football players. They, too, were stunned.
Indeed, what would lead a man who, by all accounts, loved family, friends and football and had overcome great odds to make the National Football League as an undrafted pick out of the University of Maine to take such shocking actions? A man raised by a single mother, he had achieved so much in such a short period that he had widely been considered a great role model for what could be done through hard work, grit and determination.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
Send Feedback | Subscribe