Music and the Spoken Word

The Right Man for the Time - Sunday, January 18, 2015

Always there have been struggles—for individuals and for groups. But for each struggle, there are always men and women who rise above the ugly and the combative and make the world a better place—people whose greatness seems a perfect match for the challenge of the day.

An outstanding example of this truth is Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era.

Perhaps no one other than Jackie himself will ever know how much courage this stand for civil rights required. Though he had many supporters, he was also heckled and even threatened by fans. Some opposing pitchers aimed for his head. Baserunners aimed their spikes at his legs. Even some teammates shunned him. One sportswriter called Jackie Robinson “the loneliest man I’ve ever seen in sports.”1

But Jackie knew that if he retaliated it could spell disaster for the dream of ending racial segregation. So he suffered in dignified silence. His athleticism caught the attention of baseball fans, but it was his moral strength that caught the attention of another man who believed in nonviolence: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King said of Robinson: “He underwent the trauma and the humiliation and the loneliness which comes of being a pilgrim walking the lonesome byways toward the high road of Freedom. He was a sit-inner before sit ins, a freedom rider before freedom rides. And that is why we honor him.”2 Truly, he was the right man for the time.

Today, Jackie Robinson’s uniform number, 42, has been retired by all major league teams. And every year on Jackie Robinson Day, all players, coaches, managers, and umpires wear 42 in honor of his contributions—not just to baseball but to the freedom of the nation.

The epitaph on Jackie Robinson’s tombstone reads, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” This, after all, is how the world is changed: one life at a time. And this is a contribution we can all make.

-Lloyd D. Newell

1. Jimmy Cannon, in Arnold Ampersand, Jackie Robinson: A Biography (1997), 172.
2. In Ampersand, Jackie Robinson, 7.

Jan. 18, 2015, Broadcast Number 4,453

Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Bells on Temple Square

“Right Man for the Time”

Mack Wilberg

Bells Conductor
LeAnna Willmore

Andrew Unsworth

Lloyd Newell

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Spiritual; arr. Richard Elliott

I'm Runnin' On
Spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg

Old Time Religion
Spiritual; arr. Moses Hogan; adapted by Benjamin Harlan

Little David, Play on Your Harp
Spiritual; arr. Andrew Unsworth

Every Time I Feel the Spirit
Spiritual; arr. Dean M. Estrabrook

Down to the River to Pray
Spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands
Spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg