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Wendell Smith

Hello, I'm Cameron Turner – behind the backstop at the Pasadena, CA park named in honor of Mack Robinson and Jackie Robinson . . .


Black news from Pasadena - News - Wendell Smith revolutionary African American in the pressWhile Jackie used a baseball glove and bat to battle racial justice on the diamond, black sportswriters like Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, fought the good fight with the power of the press!

The movie "42" shows how Wendell Smith faced his own set of challenges as he bonded with Jackie Robinson during his tumultuous first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers . . .

AUDIO: ANDRE HOLLAND

Smith urged African-Americans to be at their best when they went to the ballpark to watch Jackie play.

Wendell Smith called for the integration of Major League Baseball long before Branch Rickey recruited Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In fact, Smith recommended Robinson to Rickey. But the influential journalist felt conflicted – he had a deep love for the Negro Leagues and he knew that once the Majors opened up to African-Americans, that would spell the beginning of the end for black baseball.

AUDIO: ANDRE HOLLAND

So, why did African-American sports writers like Wendell Smith urge Major League Baseball to erase the color line? Because they knew that Jim Crow segregation was morally wrong and un-American.

AUDIO: ANDRE HOLLAND

There's no question that independent, black-owned institutions suffered in the wake of de-segregation. Dr. Boyce Watkins, the esteemed scholar and social critic, discussed this when he was asked about Jackie Robinson and the movie "42"...

AUDIO: DR. BOYCE WATKINS

Racial segregation had to be eliminated because it denied basic human rights to an entire population. As Dr. King stated: "segregation relegates persons to the status of things, and stands against all the noble principles of our Judeo-Christian heritage."

So, segregation had to go – period! But we would do well to reconsider our concept of integration – linking our focus on equal opportunity an emphasis on the building and maintenance of black-controlled institutions that will protect the unique social, political and – most importantly -- economic needs of our community.

 

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