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From Bklyner: "What if… the Barclays Center Had Been the Jackie Robinson Arena?"

I have an essay in Bklyner today, What if… the Barclays Center Had Been the Jackie Robinson Arena?. The start:
On June 2, on the fifth day of protests against police brutality, activists hoisted a Black Lives Matter flag up the temporarily-bare flagpole at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues near the Barclays Center, on a plaza controlled by the arena.

It supplanted the usual flags representing the United States of America, the Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Islanders. (The Nets and Islanders flags were flapping forlornly near street level on Sunday.) 
With the arena as a focal point for protests in Brooklyn, the action suggested that the movement’s message, for now, trumped not just the national symbol but also that of Nets, a “sports entertainment corporation” that can inspire civic pride and attachment. 
That flagpole, as a plaque on its base indicates, once stood at the Brooklyn Dodgers’ former home, Ebbets Field. One Brooklynite made a deeper connection on Twitter: famed Dodger Jackie Robinson, first black man in baseball, had said, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag; I know that I am a black man in a white world.” 
Robinson’s words—from his 1972 autobiography, looking back on his World Series debut a quarter-century earlier—were ignored when the flagpole was unveiled in December 2012, ten weeks after the Barclays Center opened.

Still, arena developer Bruce Ratner and Borough President Marty Markowitz aimed to link the long-gone Dodgers to the fledgling Brooklyn Nets—always a stretch–while Sharon Robinson suggested her father would’ve been proud to see major league sports return to Brooklyn. 
But Jackie Robinson should inspire not just pride in progress but also profound reflections on American injustice, and how major buildings reflect social priorities. 
An arena named for Jackie Robinson? 
After all, the Barclays Center, with its prominent corporate logo and Brooklyn Nets slogan “We Go Hard” (and black superstars) backgrounding so many photos of the protests, didn’t have to be named for a British bank. 
It could’ve been named for Jackie Robinson.
For the rest of the essay, click here.

One thing I didn't get to fit in: the 1974 paperback version of Robinson's autobiography, I Never Had It Made, was subtitled, "The famous black star of baseball tells his own exciting story." Today's version comes without a subtitle, but with introductions by academic Cornel West and Robinson's baseball successor, Hank Aaron.

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