In his new book 42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story, Fox News Chief National Correspondent, Ed Henry takes a fresh angle on the life of the baseball icon. Jackie Robinson is remembered for breaking down the racial barriers of America’s pastime, and Henry highlights the ways Robinson’s Christian faith helped him become a legendary symbol of overcoming and perseverance. Faith gave Robinson confidence in facing the severe intolerance he encountered throughout his life and career, and was one of the key pillars of his success.
Robinson grew up surrounded by messages of God’s grace, largely thanks to his mother, who instilled in him strong Christian values. Before becoming a national idol, Robinson had a rough childhood. He was mixed up with the wrong people, which resulted in a criminal record. To cope with the troublesome nature of his formative years, Robinson’s mother encouraged him to pray every night. Robinson took this practice to heart, and continued to pray every night of his professional baseball career.
Branch Rickey, the owner of the Dodgers who signed Robinson, was a strong Christian as well. This commonality helped strengthen the relationship between Rickey and Robinson, and gave both men the power to make history. Rickey told Robinson that it was in large part his faith that compelled him to desegregate the team.
What’s most inspiring about Robinson’s faith is how it allowed him to see the positives in his life and the people around him. In his book, Henry focuses on how Robinson managed to remain happy and hopeful even in the face of hate and adversity. Receiving a barrage of racist criticism and death threats throughout his career, Robinson still remarked “This country and its people, black and white, have been good to me.”
You might ask, why did a Fox News political analyst choose to write about Jackie Robinson? To Henry, Robinson’s story extends beyond the bounds of sports, and far beyond its time. Henry wrote that Robinson’s life “reminds me why I am proud to be an American.” Ed Henry is very open about his own faith and how it informs him every day. Henry felt that it was God’s providence which led him to write this book on Robinson and in reading the book it becomes very clear that Ed Henry is passionate about the unifying power of faith. He is well known in field for his generosity and kindness he shows the people he works with and that speaks volumes to his character.
The book describes comparisons that Robinson drew between sports and religion, including his belief that faith helped athletes come together and achieve a common goal. Robinson’s story, however, goes beyond faith’s role in sports- it works as an analogy for how faith can help bring Americans together in times of political and social conflict.
Robinson lived in a flawed America, and though the country has grown and evolved since that time, it still has its flaws. There still exist controversies and tragedies that make enemies out of friends, and sometimes it seems as though Americans are too different to share a nation. It’s tempting to focus on these problems, because they strike us as so glaring and are highlighted by the media.
But it’s important to remember that America is much more than just its problems. It’s a nation that exists today because Americans have always found solutions.
Jackie Robinson faced an America that was confused, disjunct, and toxic with racial tension. But instead of letting everything that was wrong with the country tear him down, he listened to what his faith told him—that there is hope, and that America could be saved. Robinson continued to believe in unity and preached a solution: “I think we all ought to join hands and hearts and effort and whatever else is necessary to enlighten the world about us.”
For Americans, faith could be freedom, or democracy, or any other pillar of liberty that makes this country the most influential in the world. Like Robinson remembered and leaned on his faith, Americans can lean on these values to unite them. Values like these can remind Americans that though our politics may differ and we might face injustices, we all stand on the foundations of a country that was born out of crisis, and has continued to endure.
The story of Jackie Robinson as told by Ed Henry is one of struggle and strength, and it may inspire us to always stay positive and never stop believing that something better is possible. America might be facing political and social conflict, but we need to have faith and remember that like baseball players, we are better as a team.
About the Authors: This article was co-written by Katherine Pickle and Chris Reid. Katherine is in her second year of Law School at Emory University, and Chris is a general practice attorney in Birmingham. This article originally appeared in Chris's column on Newsmax.