Courtesy The Chicago Defender, July 19, 1947.
in its support of baseball integration and in its treatment of black
athletes, the black press was at one with the black population. Never
acquiescing to segregation in baseball, the Negro newspapers conducted
a sustained campaign for sports integration that gave moral encouragement
to the black athlete and the black population."
1934, the Kansas City Monarchs became the first black team in the annual
Denver Post tournament... The invitation to the Monarchs was partially
the result of the campaign that was being waged by the black press for
full citizenship rights for black Americans. The bottom line, though,
was the promoters' recognition that a contest among the best teams in
the Midwest had to include the Monarchs."
call for integration reached a fever pitch by 1945, with some black
writers adopting showmanlike, theatrical methods to change opinion."
justifiable pride, black
sportswriters pointed to the athletic and business achievements of the
Negro leagues. But the assumptions of segregation were challenged
most openly during the many interracial matches. Here,
within the narrow confines of the sports settings, black athletes met
the white man on his own terms and demonstrated their worth.
The victories undermined the very ideology of segregation and chipped
away at the status quo."
every victory many blacks saw a tiny step forward in their everyday
relations with the white majority. The Call's
sportswriter contended that the best thing that baseball did for Kansas
City was to allow the races to mingle and meet each other as fellow
like Sam Lacy of the Baltimore Afro-American and Wendell Smith of the
Pittsburgh Courier had been crusading against the color barrier for
years. Their biggest obstacle was the commissioner
of baseball himself, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, a judge who publicly maintained
there was no discrimination in baseball and privately worked against
any effort to end discrimination."
black sportswriters were "extraordinary men. Jackie Robinson said that
he could never have made it to the major leagues without Smith's help.
Indeed, their most lasting collective contribution may have been an
eloquent, persistent and occasionally bitter demonstration of words
designed to urge the white baseball establishment to integrate."
Ric Roberts of the Pittsburgh Courier asked the newly named commissioner,
Happy Chandler, 'What about the black boys?'
Chandler answered, 'If they can fight and die
in Okinawa, Guadalcanal, in the South Pacific, they can play baseball
in America.' But those were just words until Branch Rickey found