Baseball and the Civil Rights Movement: Community Leaders Converge at Ebenezer

Baseball and the Civil Rights Movement: Community Leaders Converge at Ebenezer

The Civil Rights movement played a major role in the integration of baseball. Thirteen years before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, Jackie Robinson became the first black baseball player to integrate Major League Baseball. During this weekend’s annual MLB Civil Rights Game, several community leaders spoke about the race issues in America at “Baseball and the Civil Right’s Movement: A Roundtable Discussion.”

Rolling out sports was on hand as Arte Moreno, first Hispanic owner of an American sports team, the Anaheim Angels; Gloria Gaynor, Grammy-award-winning singer and community activist; Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League; Dolores Huerta, civic leader and co-founder and former vice president of United Farm Workers of America; Darrell Miller, director of MLB’s Urban Youth Academy, former catcher and outfielder for the California Angels; and Brigadier General Bryan T. Roberts, deputy commanding general in the U.S. Army were featured panelists. Dr. Charles Ogletree, Harvard law professor, civic leader and author, served as the moderator. –amir shaw

What would you tell a young teenage male who wants to be the next Hank Aaron. What do you tell him?

Darrell Miller:

“I would ask him if he is willing to commit to that timetable to make that happen. Many people don’t understand the tremendous amount of time that it took to become a Michael Jordan or Hank Aaron. But let’s make sure we get our education first, then we can concentrate on being as great as Hank Aaron later.”

We have one black president, but one million blacks in prison. Have we been misled by the possibility of a post-racial America after the election of President Obama?

Marc Morial:

“It’s wrong to think about a ‘post-racial America.’ We are multiracial. We can celebrate our difference and cultures. We have to refrain from the conversation. The election of a black president is a giant leap forward, but there is an obsession with yesterday when it comes to race in this country. We have to affirm an America with multiple cultures. We have to fix the institutions in this nation. It’s too early to celebrate a victory.”

What do we say to young people who are apathetic?

Gloria Gaynor

“The only way to get this message to young people is for us to receive it ourselves. America has got to come to the understanding that the strength of our nation is our diversity. We have to understand that our diversity is our strength.”

Arte Moreno

“Education is the new Civil Rights movement. We have to show young people that they have power with their vote. In a democratic society, we are putting those people in a position to make critical decisions. There are many people in power who know that the only way that they can remain in power is if we have citizens who are ignorant to the political process.”

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