Sports are the great uniters of a people.
No matter their differences, fans of any given team seem to be able to set them aside for a few hours to root for the home team.
That hasn’t always been the case, though.
This year is the 100-year anniversary of the Negro Leagues. Keeping that in mind, we think it’s important to highlight contributions the leagues have given to our society not only through the integration of sports but also our communities.
We’re not saying the Negro Leagues are the sole reason we have integration in sports or society. Plenty of people fought for civil rights and still are today. But they certainly were trailblazers for the cause.
These leagues combated racism and Jim Crow laws while also maintaining a high level of professional skill. They became centerpieces for economic development in many Black communities.
They paved the way and provided the road map for success not just for baseball.
We don’t have LeBron James and Michael Jordan without Wataru Misaka and Chuck Cooper.
We don’t have Patrick Mahomes without Woody Strode.
We don’t have Salvy without Jackie Robinson.
And we don’t have Jackie Robinson without the Kansas City Monarchs and the Negro Leagues.
That’s a great legacy. One that deserved to be thought of, taught and remembered. We tip our cap to you. Thank you for your contributions to our society.
If you have an opportunity to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, do it. We know you’ll learn something.
We’ve come a long way. However, current events tell us racism is alive and well in America. It’s a sad statement but a true one. Unfortunately, that’s even still true in our great uniters. That hasn’t stopped players from trying to unite us.
When Colin Kaepernick started a national conversation on racial injustice through a protest during the national anthem in 2016. It ultimately cost him his spot with the 49ers. He’s yet to find a team four years later. He may not have a team, but Kaepernick is leading the conversation. One that likely wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t chosen to protest.
Earlier this summer, when NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace called for the removal of the Confederate flag at races, he was met with death threats. But NASCAR banned the flag and Wallace drove with the #BlackLivesMatter on his car.
This season in the NBA many white players have opted to replace their name on their jerseys with Black Lives Matter. In Major League Soccer, teams wore Black Lives Matter on their shirts to show solidarity with the Black community.
To those playing today, keep up the fight and play ball.