JCSU exhibit focuses on Negro National Baseball League — an often forgotten part of American history
It’s been just over 100 years since the Negro National League was founded as a way to organize Black baseball teams. Their players were not allowed to join major league teams, not because they were not talented enough but simply because of the color of their skin.
In a podcast, NPR host Scott Simon asked how could the major league be "major" without baseball's African American greats such as Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Rube Foster and numerous others. These baseball legends proved their athleticism in the National Negro League before large crowds year round. The NNL was founded in 1920, mainly by African American player and later Hall of Famer Andrew Rube Foster.
Since 1991, the Kansas City-based Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has preserved the history of these unsung American baseball heroes who faced numerous challenges to play the game they loved. The museum has created several national traveling exhibitions to highlight the players, their importance to the Black community and their impact on American society. This week, one of those exhibitions opened at Johnson C. Smith University.
The exhibition focuses on this often-forgotten slice of American history and also on the Negro Baseball League’s connections to North Carolina — home to some baseball greats. JCSU archivist Brandon Lunsford talked to WFAE's All Things Considered host Gwendolyn Glenn about the NNL and the players' contributions to the game and American society.
The Negro Leagues Baseball exhibition is on display in JCSU’s James B. Duke Library through June 7.