Jackie Robinson challenged baseball and others to acknowledge, value Black life Robinson keeps echoing in MLB’s present as did the pioneering figures from the Negro Leagues

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When Jackie Robinson crossed the baseball color line in 1947, we knew it was violating many sacred constructs that shaped American society. This line was hardly drawn in chalk. It was solid like a wall, electrified with America’s reluctance to see humanity on the other side. There was a social order and a Black baseball player was not supposed to be on the roster.

Yet the bricks started to be removed, where baseball could not turn back.

The inevitable erosion of the Negro Leagues followed, fleeced of its talent and ultimately its economic engine. Black baseball entrepreneurship became homeless, drying up its popular leagues in exchange for a wispy hope for inclusion without ownership.

Baseball had to accept its complicity in entering this taboo black and white space where the risk to larger society was that Robinson’s value would be actualized beyond his baseball talents, therefore encouraging  those who looked like him to expect that Blackness would advance to the next base in equality.

Robinson and so many others throughout America fought through silence to be heard, and every incremental step he took,…


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