God and Jackie Robinson: Long Hits It Out of the Park

Tuesday, February 6— I rushed to the Hoover Center of Business far later than intended. At 7 p.m. on the dot in Hoover 212, the case study room was filled to brim with people and Dr. Monica Smith, director of diversity and inclusion, was already introducing the man of the hour himself. As luck would have it, there was a seat in the front open and with just enough time to get settled, the lecture began.

Dr. Michael G. Long, associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies, is considered one of the best scholars on the life and faith of Jackie Robinson, having written and co-written multiple books on the subject.

“God and Jack Robinson: A Lecture by Michael G. Long” is in part to talk about Long’s research for his most recent book, “Jackie Robinson: A Spiritual Biography,” which he is a co-author of.

The other point of this lecture was obvious; its Black History Month.

Long was invited to share his work, talk about Robinson’s life, not just promote a book. Humanity has a tendency to idolize the past. Robinson was a multifaceted human being, but you only hear about his baseball career, only see photos of him smiling during those years.

“What we tend to do as whites is focus on 1947,” Long said “While Jackie Robinson is turning the other cheek.”
Robinson is defined by more than just baseball or his smile.

“We all, throughout history romanticize some of these people,” Smith said, after the lecture. “But [Long] really showed us Jackie Robinson, the man, and I appreciate that so much. It gave me a greater appreciation of him.”

Yes, Long was teaching the audience that Robinson was just as human as the rest of them.

Long is a teacher. He teaches what he is passionate about and he’s passionate about a lot of things. When someone is enthusiastic about something, it makes people want to listen and that shows.

Although the lecture itself was informative on Robinson’s life, the question and answer section was where it truly shows just how knowledgeable Long is on Robinson and how much he thrives while discussing him.

“This is really interesting to me, too.” Long said, interrupting his own story to give the audience a disclaimer and laughing as he did. “Actually, I find everything about this story interesting! Sorry about that.”

Long was answering a question given by his own son, Nate, asking about how often Robinson when to church. Long answered the question itself quick, but it lead him to a story of Robinson that he could share, so he shared it. He ended up doing that with most of the questions asked.

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