Episode 17, Season 3
In 2015, Coach Steve Bandura loaded the Anderson Monarchs, a Little League baseball team from Philadelphia, onto a 1947 Flxible Clipper Bus for a barnstorming tour back in time. Bandura and the players recount lessons learned while visiting historic civil rights sites, meeting veteran activists and playing baseball along the way. And historian Derrick E. White, co-host of The Black Athlete podcast, explores the intersection of sports and civil rights history.
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Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights MovementEdited by Hasan Kwame Jeffries
Own the book from the University of Wisconsin Press that inspired and informs season three of the Teaching Hard History podcast!
- Learning for Justice student text, The Negro Motorist Green Book (grades 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
- Learning for Justice student text, 1947: Jackie Robinson Integrates Baseball (grades 9-12)
- Learning for Justice, More than a Name: Teaching Historic Firsts
- Learning for Justice, Title IX at 40
- Learning for Justice, Mighty Times | The Children's March (film kit)
- Learning for Justice, Selma | The Bridge to the Ballot (film kit)
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Baseball is in my blood.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: My grandfather, Leonard Jeffries, Sr.—a hulk of a man with hands the size of a catcher’s mitt – played semi-pro baseball in the 1930s and 1940s in Newark, New Jersey, on teams comprised of working-class Black men who labored at local factories such as Ballantine and Sons Brewing Co. His teams took the field against other Black factory workers—friends from his neighborhood, as well as rivals from across town. And on occasion, he even got to test his skills against professional players when barnstorming Negro Leaguers came to town.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: My grandfather passed his love for the game onto his two children, my father Marland, and his older brother Leonard, Jr. When they were youngsters, he would drive them to Brooklyn to Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to watch the fleet-footed Jackie Robinson lead the once hapless Dodgers to World Series glory. On other occasions, my grandfather drove the family to Philadelphia, to watch Robinson and the Dodgers take on the Phillies in old Connie Mack Stadium.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: No matter the venue, they always had great seats. Neither ballpark was officially segregated, but it was rare to see African Americans seated behind the dugout or home plate. But that’s exactly where you would find them. My grandfather was a hustler of sorts—or at the very least, knew how to hustle—and leveraged mob connections he made working as a custodian for the New York-New Jersey Port Authority into prime stadium seating. Now it didn’t hurt that he often put a little something on the games. Baseball was in his blood.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Soon, my father and uncle were playing America’s pastime themselves. They graduated from Newark’s Police Athletic League, which was run by Irish cops, to star on Barringer High School’s mostly Italian Nine. This was just the way Newark worked in the 1950s—segregated and integrated all at the same time.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: My father, after a stint in the Air Force, went on to play college ball at Central State in Ohio. When I was growing up, he regaled my brother and I with stories of his five-tool talent, insisting that he hit for average and power, had speed on the basepaths, could track a fly ball like Willie Mays, and could wheel about and double-up a runner at any base just like the Say Hey Kid himself. I never really believed him, until I happened upon a couple of old Central State yearbooks and saw his stats. My father wasn’t joking—that dude could play! Baseball was in his blood.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Like my grandfather, my dad took my brother and I to major league baseball games. Living in Brooklyn, we didn’t own a car, so we rode the 7 train to Shea Stadium over in Queens to cheer on the Mets, my team, and the 4 train to Yankee Stadium up in the Bronx to watch those damn Yankees, my brother’s favorite franchise.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: My dad also signed my brother and I up for Little League. Although we were Baptists, we played our entire Little League careers for St. Thomas Aquinas, an Irish Catholic church on 9th Avenue in Brooklyn, close to Red Hook but still in Park Slope.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Our first year in the league, my brother and I played on the same team, the Hawks, for Coach O’Brian. Our team was bad. Not quite Bad News Bears bad, but we didn’t win many games. But that didn’t matter much to me; I was falling in love with the game, and just enjoyed playing. But it didn’t hurt that I was also pretty good for a diminutive eight year old, making the all-star team as a backup. Hakeem, though, was good good. A gangly right-handed pitcher, he threw heat. He was also one of the team’s best hitters and fastest runners. Baseball was in his blood.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: The next season, Hakeem was gone, having aged out of the Popcorn division. I missed playing alongside him, but I enjoyed stepping into his shoes as the team’s best pitcher. And over the next two years, I continued to grow as a player—on the mound, playing every infield and outfield position, and at the plate too. And I did it with swagger, that Rickey Henderson type swagger. That 'Refer-to-myself-in-the-third-person' type swagger. After games, when my mom asked how I did, I would answer, "Hasan did great!" Baseball was in my blood.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: It’s been 40 years since I played for Coach O’Brian and the Hawks, but I remember those days as clearly as yesterday. One game in particular has proven impossible to forget, a game we almost never played because the umpire never showed. But my father was at that game, and with his baseball background, agreed to umpire. And I was excited. Now he would see up close for himself how good his youngest son actually was.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Late in that game, I stepped into the batter’s box, socks pulled high, a thick wad of chewing gum squared away in my cheek, and smiled knowingly at my dad, who was calling balls and strikes from behind the pitcher. But he was all business and didn’t smile back. But it didn’t really matter. Hasan was ready.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I don’t remember what came first: the balls or the strikes. I just remember the count being two and two, when the pitcher threw what was clearly a ball—clearly low and outside—so I didn’t even bother to swing. I just tracked the pitch with my eyes and hips and kept my bat cocked high above my shoulder. Before the catcher even caught it, I was already thinking about the next pitch. But my father had other thoughts. With way too much enthusiasm, he yelled, "Strike!" My jaw dropped. I was dumbfounded. I remember thinking, "Did he just call me out on what was clearly a ball?" I looked at him incredulously. He stared back, but didn’t say a word. His eyes said it all—"Go sit down, Rickey Henderson."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: On the train ride home we sat in silence, until I mustered the courage and the calm to ask, "Daddy, how could you strike me out?" "I didn’t strike you out, you struck yourself out. You should’ve swung." "But it was a ball!" "It was too close to the plate. Too close for you to take." "But you’re my father!" "I don’t care who I am. A ball that close to the plate, with two strikes, you swing. You swing every time."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And that was that. Conversation over.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: For many years after, when memories of that game came to mind, I would ask my father about that at bat, and about that pitch. And every time he would say, "You should’ve swung."
"You know that pitch was a ball?"
"You should’ve swung."
"You know you’re my father?"
"You should’ve swung."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Then one day, when I was in my late twenties, I casually broached the subject again, "You know that pitch was a ball?" But this time, my father broke from form. "Yeah, I know."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: "Vindication!" I thought. But before I could say anything else, he started. "You know that pitch was too close to take. Why were you afraid to swing anyway? Why did you let me decide your fate? You have to decide your own fate."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: He wasn’t talking baseball anymore.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: "You needed to learn that when a ball is that close and you have two strikes on you, you swing. You protect the plate, even if you’re just fouling the ball off to get a better pitch. You decide your own fate. That day, you let someone else decide your fate and you struck out. You didn’t even give yourself a chance. Always give yourself a chance. Do you understand what I’m saying?"
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: "Yeah, I understand. I understand that I was right – that it was a ball! But I also understand that you were more right. I should’ve swung."
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Although I didn’t realize it until that conversation, after that game, I aggressively protected the plate, especially when I was down in the count, both on and off the field. And I still do, because baseball is in my blood.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I’m Hasan Kwame Jeffries, and this is Teaching Hard History. We’re a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice project—formerly known as Teaching Tolerance. To learn more about Learning for Justice and to meet our new director, visit us at LearningforJustice.org.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This is our final episode of the season, and we are so glad you’ve joined us for this detailed look at how to teach the Black freedom struggle, or the US civil rights movement. But don’t worry, we’ll be back soon with our fourth season to explore the history of Jim Crow starting with Reconstruction. So stay tuned. But first, get ready for something special.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: In 2015, Coach Steve Bandura loaded a little league baseball team from Philadelphia onto a 1947 Flxible Clipper Bus for a multi-state trip through the history of baseball and the civil rights movement. In this episode, we’re going to hear the amazing story of the Anderson Monarchs’ Civil Rights Barnstorming Tour from Coach Bandura and from several players who were there. But first, we’re going to talk with historian Derrick White about the intersection of sports and civil rights.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Now, let’s play two.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Race and sports go hand in hand in America, and it is hard to understand one without the other. To help us make sense of the intersections of race and sports and society, I am really excited to welcome to the podcast Derrick White. D-White, my man. What's going on, brother?
Derrick White: Oh, man, everything is good, how are things with you, brother?
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Maintaining. Maintaining. I'm happy you're with us. I'm a big sports fan. I know you're a big sports fan. I also know that you are an expert in analyzing the critical juncture between race and sports, and how we can use sports as a prism to understand the color line and activism. So, look, I want to dive in, my man.
Derrick White: All right, man.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And I need some answers, brother.
Derrick White: Let's go.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: We're about to do this. We’re about to do this.
Derrick White: All right, here we go.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: All right, look, I'm from Brooklyn—the B.K. Grew up a Mets fan, but that's only because the Dodgers had already left. My dad was a big Brooklyn Dodgers fan and any time, of course, you think about the intersection of race and sports, the mind immediately drifts to number 42, Jackie Robinson. But obviously, there is a long history before we get to Jackie Robinson in 1947. What should we know about, sort of, race and sports in America in sort of the modern era, late 1800s, 1900s, 20th century, if you will, in order to better understand the civil rights era and sports before we get to number 42?
Derrick White: I think the most important thing to realize about race and sports in America in the late 19th, early 20th century is that in many ways it parallels the experiences everyday African Americans are experiencing in their lives, right? We see the growing color line, what Rayford Logan, the great historian, calls The Nadir, right? The color line, the opportunities for African Americans on the back side of reconstruction are rapidly closing, and the sports world is really no different. So we see Moses Fleetwood Walker being the last African-American player in what was then professional baseball in 1888.
Derrick White: You see African-American jockeys dominated the early years of the Kentucky Derby, but by 1900, 1901, we see Black jockeys really pushed out of the profession. We see the color line being maintained in the world of boxing as white champions rising through the ranks, will regularly fight Black fighters, But if they achieve the championship, the title-holding belts, they would draw the color line. And so one of the things that we see across this spectrum of sports in many ways parallels the experiences of African Americans who are facing increasing amounts of segregation in streetcars, on railroads, in their everyday lives. And so the sports world is closing off economic and professional opportunities for many African Americans. And so, in many ways, I like to say that the sports world is not any different from the broader Black experiences in the way that Black folks experience Jim Crow. It's just another realm of Jim Crow life.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: What are some of the ways in which African Americans respond to this new exclusion—early 20th century exclusion, late 19th century exclusion—from professional sports, white-dominated professional sports? How do they respond?
Derrick White: Black folks respond by creating their own teams, and eventually creating their own leagues. The Negro National League and the Negro American League are being founded. Rube Foster founds the Negro National League in 1920. And several years later, the Negro American League will be founded. And these new teams play each other in a fairly regular schedule, but they also partake in barnstorming where they travel all over the country and play sometimes local teams, or they'll play against other teams from the National Leagues in various cities. And this is them building up their own kinds of institutions. And so when I teach this in the classroom, I really liken it to what we see across African-American life, right? When the doors of segregation appear, Black folks create their own sets of institutions. They create their own fraternities. They create their own sororities. They create their own political organizations. They create their own legal and professional organizations, their own nurses’ organizations. You see Black colleges developing their own kind of, what I call in my work, sporting congregation, right? This community of sports fans, athletes, Black media. We see the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier, and a whole host of Black newspapers really developing their Black sports pages. And this becomes part and parcel of this entire network, this entire sporting world, that allows for Black communities outside of what's happening in Major League Baseball or what's happening in the white side of the segregated athletic world. Black communities are developing their own culture, teams, traditions, rivalries, et cetera. And so, baseball in many ways is not any different from the rest of the world in this manner. And so, they're saying to white baseball, “Yes, you can shut us out. But you cannot keep us from the game.”
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: It sounds like what you're describing is not what we actually often think about when it comes to African Americans and the white professional leagues. I mean, in the minds of many, I imagine, you have Black baseball players who have a glove in their hand and they're just standing outside of Ebbets Field for 40 years saying, "Hey, can we play, too?" No, they're actually, you know, playing on their own terms. Is that safe to say?
Derrick White: Oh, that's absolutely safe to say. And I think one of the things that's really the most fascinating part about the Negro Leagues in particular, is that they would arrange these All-Star Games against Major League players quite regularly in the 1930s and 1940s before Jackie Robinson desegregates Major League Baseball. And they would measure themselves against these major league All-Stars who are playing in the summer. You got to remember that in those days, the salaries were not as astronomical as they are today, and so many of the professional athletes played in these winter leagues, they played against Negro League players in Mexico or Latin America. And so Black baseball in particular knew that it measured up, right? Satchel Paige knew that he could pitch at the major league level because he was facing major league batters every year and, more often than not, striking them out.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Were there regional differences when it comes to the color line and sports?
Derrick White: Obviously, professional sports drew a color line. At the collegiate level, the color line was considerably sharper, right? Because the vast majority of historically Black colleges are in the South, and the predominantly white institutions in the South had no intentions of trying to desegregate. But when you look at the North, whether it's New England in the Northeast or the Midwest or in the West, those places had already had a history of Black students attending those universities, and it was only a matter of time before we see Black student athletes. And I think this is a good kind of segue to understanding Jackie Robinson, right? As his family migrates from Georgia to Los Angeles, he's able to play and participate in integrated sports in Los Angeles in a way that he would not be able to have been able to play in Georgia. And so in 1939, Jackie Robinson attends UCLA. And there's an argument to be made that Jackie Robinson was probably the best athlete of his generation. We know him as a baseball star, but he was probably a better college football player at the time. He won the 1940 NCAA championship in the long jump, jumping 24 feet at the time. And so, you know, Jackie Robinson was a three-sport star at a predominantly white institution, which we forget about when we only tell this kind of narrative of his integrating the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I have a question about Jackie Robinson. When he was coming up, he certainly wasn't the best Negro League Baseball player at the time. Buck Leonard talks about, you know, he was good, but he wasn't the greatest. There were others who could’ve have played. And certainly, as you said, they're doing the barnstorming, they're playing against them, but they weren't tapped by Branch Rickey. So, just why Jackie Robinson?
Derrick White: I think Jackie Robinson has a couple of things in his background that are instrumental for his selection as the player to break the color line. First, he had already participated in integrated sports at UCLA, and I think that's an important piece. There was a fear that the players in the Negro Leagues, many of whom like Satchel Paige, who dropped out of high school to be a professional baseball player, had very little experience on a day-to-day basis with white teammates. You know, I think that Branch Rickey was very clear thinking that Jackie Robinson's experiences at UCLA will be beneficial for helping him understand what's going to happen on the field, but also in the locker room, while they travel, et cetera.
Derrick White: The second part is that Jackie Robinson had a military career. He's drafted in 1942 and he is sent to a segregated unit at Fort Hood, but even though he is very much challenging segregation on the buses while he was there, that military experience, Branch Rickey also saw as being valuable for the person who was going to be first. And so, he had the unique combination of personal experiences with integration, as well as he was talented enough to be successful. Because we have to be very honest here that Jackie Robinson, had he failed, there were not going to be another Black player for another five or 10 years because they would just be like, “Well, he failed. That means the rest of them can't play.” He was identified as someone who could possibly deal with that kind of pressure, in addition to the racism that he was going to face from opposing players, his own teammates, from fans in the stands, and they thought that he had the kind of temperament. Even though he was known to be a fiery player, they thought that his experiences would allow him to understand the magnitude of the circumstance and keep his cool in those early seasons with the Dodgers.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: When we think about Jackie Robinson, often we think about April 15, 1947, when he's called up from having played the year before in Montreal. We may focus on his Hall of Fame baseball career, the 10 seasons he plays with the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning rookie of the year, MVP, always making the All-Star team, bringing the only championship to Brooklyn. But then the story sort of fades away, and we don't hear from Jackie Robinson again within that narrative. After he plays his last season in 1956, you know, 1957 is the crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas. I mean, the public aspect of the civil rights movement is really about to explode. What should our students know about Jackie Robinson's post-baseball life?
Derrick White: That Jackie Robinson he spends his post baseball life trying to figure out what his responsibility will be. I think that it's always important to note that Jackie Robinson writes a column for the New York Amsterdam News quite regularly, where he's talking about civil rights issues, right? He's talking about Little Rock. He's talking about police brutality. He's talking about these ideas that are permeating through the early years of the civil rights movement. He's aligning himself with King, but by 1967, when King is criticizing America's participation in the Vietnam War, Jackie Robinson is also critical of Martin Luther King's willingness to criticize American foreign policy, right? And so I think that it's always important to understand that someone like Jackie Robinson doesn't fit neatly in the way we think about civil rights activists, that he was a lifelong Republican as Black folks shifted their political allegiances from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, right?
Derrick White: So Jackie Robinson, even as a player, right, criticizes Paul Robeson, who he saw as an idol, for his statement in 1948 that African Americans would never raise arms against the Soviet Union. Paul Robeson was a great all-American football player, a world class singer, the first Black movie star and an idol to many young African-American men, especially if they had been athletes and intellectuals. And that Jackie Robinson was called by the HUAC committee to testify against Paul Robeson's support of the communist regime. And so, we see that someone like Jackie Robinson has an important, I think, political lineage that allows for us to really grapple with the kind of differing opinions among African Americans about the best ways to achieve racial equality. Because even though he disagreed with King at times, and even though he disagreed with Paul Robeson, he was a believer that Black people deserved equality and the opportunities to live a full life in America. And so, he would say, most famously, that he was not going to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Hmm.
Derrick White: He was extremely critical of police brutality that was emerging in the 1950s and '60s. So this is also part of Jackie Robinson's legacy. We like to freeze him like the movie 42, which is a fantastic, I think, deep exploration of the early first season, leading up to the first season with the Dodgers, but I think Jackie Robinson lives a fascinating and interesting life after that. I think he becomes far more aggressive in his baseball play, that he no longer just willingly accepts the kind of racist vitriol from opponents. That he's playing an aggressive brand of baseball, where he will spike guys who have called him names. He's—you know, he's talking back. He's doing that kind of thing. We say he just had to accept it. He had to accept it in years one and two, but years three through 10, he is actively giving as much as he's getting. We get that fiery personality that was Jackie Robinson. And I think that's important for us to understand. And at the same time, he's also a mentor, right? You know, he serves as a role model for that next generation of great Black ballplayers, from Willie Mays to Hank Aaron, who come through Major League Baseball and really change the game.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This season of Teaching Hard History is based on the book Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, recipient of the 2020 James Harvey Robinson prize for the most outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning of history from the American Historical Association. And this podcast in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Press, publishers of this collection of essays, which I edited. You’ll find the link to purchase the book at learningforjustice.org/podcast.
Steve Bandura: Philadelphia is a very diverse city when you look at the population as a whole. But if you look at the neighborhoods, the city has been historically, extremely segregated, and not just Black-white segregated or Hispanic segregated. You know, there were your Polish neighborhoods, your Italian neighborhoods, your Irish neighborhoods. So, you know, even though it's a diverse city, if you don't leave your neighborhood, you're not experiencing that diversity. I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia in the Mayfair section of the city, which was an Irish working-class neighborhood. I mean, an Irish bar on every corner.
Steve Bandura: I went to 12 years of Catholic school and sports was, from the age of six, what my life revolved around. I was the tail end of the baby boomer generation, so there were so many kids in the neighborhood and everybody played sports. I mean that's just what everybody did. Back then, you know, most of the sports you played was independent play, where you just meet outside in the driveway and walk to the field or wherever, play in the driveway or in the street. Always some form of baseball, half-ball, stickball, wall ball, wire ball. We had so many iterations of baseball. We also played soccer, we played basketball. And where I grew up they were probably five or six youth organizations. They were called Boys’ Clubs back then, of course. Five or six in the area that I could have walked to from my house.
Steve Bandura: In 1989, a friend from college, her boss was trying to start a youth organization somewhere within walking distance of Center City, Philadelphia. They found this recreation center, the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in South Philly. So my friend called me, and she asked if I had any interest in it and you know I said, yes mostly as a favor to her really, to make her look good in front of her boss. And that's how the Monarchs program really started. I went down there in 1989 as a favor to a friend and I never left and my whole entire life changed from then.
Steve Bandura: Once I started working with the kids, I mean, I never knew that I would like coaching. In fact, it never appealed to me to coach. I just wanted to play. At that point, I was working in marketing. I had a, you know, I guess what most people consider a good job with a company car and an office and a secretary. But I just hated it. Like, every morning I would wake up, I'd sit on the edge of the bed and try to figure out, you know, how I could get out of work that day. But then when I started working with the kids, I really enjoyed it. And the biggest thing was the fact that I was needed there. If I wasn't there, then the kids wouldn't have this opportunity. There was no one to take my place. So the kids were depending on me and, you know, I really like the way that felt.
Steve Bandura: Then in 1993, I was really trying to push to start with younger kids. So I went to the local schools and I recruited first to third graders, and I think that first year we started off with 160 kids in that age group, and I formed the Jackie Robinson Baseball League, which was just an in-house league. We had about 12 teams at that time. And, you know, it was the first time baseball had been played in that neighborhood in a long time. I felt like the first thing I had to do is reconnect the kids with that history, so we gave every kid a kid’s book called Jackie Robinson and the Story of All Black Baseball. And, you know, I gave it to every kid and had the parents read it to the kids or the kids read it with their parents together so that they would see that there is a rich history of baseball in the African-American community.
Steve Bandura: And on top of that, the Marian Anderson Rec Center, while I'm there working with the kids, I was talking to a couple old timers, guys that were probably in their 70s at the time, telling me about how that Rec Center used to be called McCoach Playground, and back in the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s, it was the epicenter of Black baseball. They were telling me that on Sundays, it was so packed people would be 10 deep around the field, and everybody was there. They would outdraw the Phillies on Sundays. I believed them that there was baseball that went on, you know, but as we get older, you know how we tend to embellish stories and crowd size grows? Recently, in the last few years, a neighbor found a picture in a book. The picture was from 1921 of a baseball game going on at McCoach Playground, the same field we were using. And the field is surrounded by people in their Sunday best. The game's going on and the crowd is surrounding the entire field and they're 10 deep. It was amazing. It was exactly what those old-timers had described to me.
Steve Bandura: You know, I use that to reconnect the kids and the families. Everybody played baseball, you know in the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s. You know, every community, rural, urban, you know, in the Black community and the white community, everybody played baseball and mostly played independently on their own. That's where you honed your craft, and you would play on travel teams, on the weekends or whatever but where you got good was by playing every single day. And somewhere along the line, all that independent play stopped. So all that was left were the organized programs. And there were really no organized programs in the inner city. So when independent play stopped, baseball stopped.
Steve Bandura: So the kids I was working with, their parents hadn't played the game, their grandparents for the most part had, so we had that connection. But I just felt like that was the first job: connect them to the history, teach them about Jackie Robinson. And I knew growing up in Northeast Philly and playing in those city leagues, that we would be the first and only Black team to ever play in those leagues, and what we would have to face wouldn't be exactly what Jackie Robinson faced, but there would be a lot of that resistance to us in the league, and a lot of stereotypes being thrown around and preconceived notions of what our team would be.
Steve Bandura: Once I created the Jackie Robinson Baseball League, which was just an in-house league, my goal was to select the better players from that league, the more talented kids, the kids that showed potential and really loved the game and form a travel program, where we would play in this best city league, it was called the Devlin League, which incorporated mostly Northeast Philadelphia and the northern suburbs of Philadelphia.
Carter Davis: I'm Carter Davis. I joined the Monarchs in 2012. I played outfield and pitched for them.
Brandon Gibbs: My name is Brandon Gibbs. I've been with the Monarchs since I was about three years old, starting out playing t-ball. And my position, I play third and first.
Mo’ne Davis: So I'm Mo'ne Davis. I've been playing for the Monarchs for about 12 years. I played basically everywhere for the Monarchs, but my main position for them was pitcher.
Scott Bandura: My name is Scott Bandura. So my dad founded the Monarchs, so I was kind of born into the family business. I played catcher my entire life, up until around my junior year of high school. I made the transition to play outfield.
Jared Sprague-Lott: My name is Jared Sprague-Lott. I've been playing with the Anderson Monarchs since I was 11 years old, and I play shortstop.
Steve Bandura: So I knew all the objections that would come up, because to get into the League you had to write a letter and then you get invited to a board meeting and then they interview you and then you leave, and then they vote whether to allow you into the league or not. So I just went through it from their standpoint, and was prepared to answer any objections they had. I wrote the letter, I went to the meeting. Originally, I wanted to call the team the Black Sox. The Baltimore Black Sox was a Negro Leagues team, but I knew that would sound way too hostile for the people we were appealing to get into the league with. So I came up with the name Monarchs after the Kansas City Monarchs, which was probably the most famous Negro League team. Jackie Robinson played for the Monarchs before he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Steve Bandura: Well, I’m waiting. A week later, nothing. Two weeks later, nothing. So I called the head of the league and he says, "We decided to wait a year on your application and reconsider you for next year." And I just couldn't believe it. So I called back the guy that I knew and said, "Listen, you better call him and let him know that if we're not accepted, it's going to be all over the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News tomorrow about how this league shut out the Black team and wouldn't accept them." And then, of course, about an hour later, I got a phone call telling me that he had reconsidered and, you know, no matter what the board said, he wants us in the league, and we were in. Now this is 1995, mind you, this is not 1945. This is 1995, and here we are integrating the Philadelphia leagues, 50 years after Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues.
Steve Bandura: So our first season in the Devlin League, we struggled. Our record was 2-14. I mean, it is a good league. It was the top league. It's the A league in the city. At that time, there were three leagues and this was the best league. So we finished 2-14. We were competitive, which is really all I wanted to show that first year. But there were a lot of “Oh, I-told-you-so's.” But what people didn't realize is our kids are nine years old, they didn't start playing until they were seven. The kids we’re playing against have been playing since they could walk, and playing catch with dad since they could walk. So they had a few more years of experience on us, and our kids were learning the game sort of as we went along. They weren't baseball fans to begin with. So the next year, we were 8-8, and the next year after that we were 11-5, and then 12-4. You know, we just steadily increased to where we were one of the better teams in the league.
Steve Bandura: So we played that first year in the league and, you know, there's some racism but mostly ignorance. A lot of comments, a lot of subtle stuff that the kids didn't see but that I could see, because I grew up there. You know, and you'll hear the N-word thrown around or you know people talking about—I remember when we went to pick up our uniforms, I was there waiting and my friend who runs the sporting goods store in Northeast Philly was behind the counter and another coach came up and it happened to be the coach that we were going to be playing that following week. And he didn't know who I was, and he says to my friend Ed, he says, "Yeah, they got this new team in South Philly. We got to go down there and play them, this Black team. We're going to have to fight our way out of there." Ed just kind of looked at me side eye and smiled. But all those expectations, the people are just so uncomfortable.
Scott Bandura: Primarily, inner-city baseball is looked at, especially when we go to these tournaments, we would see a lot of teams expecting us to be poorly coached, undisciplined, and we would see a lot of other coaches and parents who were really patronizing. And especially when talking to my dad, since he's a white male. So they would, like, go to him basically in the most condescending way, like, say, “It's great what you're doing for these kids. Like, you're keeping them in a good place, and keeping them off the streets.” And then we’d go out and we’d whoop up on them, and it's a completely different story after the game. So it's definitely been fun in that sense, but we've also run into a lot of just people just like that.
Brandon Gibbs: Off the bat, I noticed the primary difference is color, honestly. Most of our team was predominantly Black. I feel like they felt as though we weren't as good as them or didn't have as much skills as they did, but then we showed how we could play on the field and competed. And we found ways to win. Had a winning team.
Steve Bandura: And then in 1997, the 50th anniversary of when Jackie Robinson broke the color line in 1947, Major League Baseball makes a huge deal out of it. That's when they retire his number in perpetuity with every Major League club. There are celebrations going on all year. April 15th is Jackie Robinson Day. So literally one morning in February of '97, I woke up with this idea to take the kids barnstorming. Like, as a tribute to Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues, to take the kids on a barnstorming tour and go out to the Negro Leagues museum in Kansas City as our destination point. And it came together, and we came up with a 13-day tour out to Kansas City and back. We started the tour at Jackie Robinson's grave site in Brooklyn and went from there. And like I said, we played games along the way. We visited 10 cities in 13 days.
Steve Bandura: In 2015, we did the same thing. We were out on the road. I wanted the kids to kind of have a better understanding of what was going on and why. So I came up with the idea to study the civil rights movement with them and study Black history up until the civil rights movement and since then, and then to go out on a tour later that year and visit these historic sites through the Deep South, again barnstorming, playing games, meeting people, visiting historic sites. And that's what led to our civil rights tour.
Steve Bandura: When I came up with the idea of the civil rights tour and teaching the kids about the civil rights movement, before we went out on the road, I wanted them to know what we were going to see. I didn't want them to learn as they went, you know, they're still going to learn as we went along, but I didn't want them to wait until they got to Birmingham and then hear about what happened in 16th Street Baptist Church or whatever. I want them to have this foundation going in.
Steve Bandura: So every Friday night through the winter of 2014-2015, we would get together in an old locker room in the recreation center and we would watch documentaries. We were there, two, three hours every Friday night for six months.
Jared Sprague-Lott: It was dark outside. Nobody was there. Coach Steve had a projector setup in the back, and we watched a ton of films that showed us the history of the civil rights movement, the transatlantic slave trade.
Mo'ne Davis: Two of my favorite movies that we watched were Glory and Selma.
Jared Sprague-Lott: We watched films like Roots, we watched Selma, we watched the Eyes on the Prize series.
Steve Bandura: So we started with slavery, and then we got into Reconstruction and convict leasing and peonage and Jim Crow, and then eventually up to the modern civil rights movement. I mean, there's some just awesome documentaries out there, Eyes on the Prize, 4 Little Girls, Slavery by Another Name. Once every month or six weeks we'd watch a movie, but mostly it was documentaries, mostly it was books. Just absolutely great discussions. The kids really—I mean, way more than I expected, really embraced it, and the interest level was amazing. And kids were like, asking me questions during the week at practice about something they had seen the previous Friday. And we had parents watching as well, and they were learning things that they had never known.
Scott Bandura: We would all gather, and a different family would bring dinner for everyone each week. It really became like a family event.
Jared Sprague-Lott: That was our family right there. We loved spending time with each other, and Coach Steve really gave us that space to bring us together and allow us to educate ourselves about where we came from.
Mo'ne Davis: I mean it was—I feel like we're a group of kids that just love learning and, you know, love listening to the adults around us and just learning about history. I feel like I got lucky with the great group of guys.
Scott Bandura: And it was also a great bonding experience because we were all learning it together, and we knew that this knowledge is essential to have as young Black individuals in this country.
Steve Bandura: The education part of it was the best part of it, really. I mean, it was the meat of it. We had opened up the sessions to parents and, you know, any other siblings who wanted to sit in that were old enough, for one, to handle it and could sit there quietly, because the team was amazing.
Steve Bandura: The day we were going to leave, all the families came out, kids were excited. We're heading to Washington, DC, for the first leg of the tour. A lot of the parents are traveling with us for the first leg of the tour. And it was just, you know, the anticipation was amazing.
Steve Bandura: We get to DC around nine o'clock, and we checked into the Howard Johnson's, and we went to bed. We got up the next morning and we meet down at the continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. And the TVs are on down there, and they're talking about this massacre in Charleston, South Carolina at Emanuel AME. And the kids are just stunned watching it.
Jared Sprague-Lott: We got into DC, it just popped up on the television. It was the main headline everywhere that there was a mass shooting in Charleston. This white man went into the oldest AME Church in the South and killed several African-American people. And we knew we were going to be passing through South Carolina a couple days later, and he was actually still on the run when we found out. So our first instinct was to make sure that we were safe, and to make sure that we stayed together and felt safe. Wow, we're still here. We haven't really gone too far. We haven't made much progress. So it was devastating, for sure.
Steve Bandura: Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who walked into a Bible study, joined in the Bible study, was welcomed in by the Black community. A white kid welcomed into the Black church to join their Bible study and then he massacres them. Nine people are killed. I hear them talking about, “It's just like Birmingham,” you know, referencing 16th Street Baptist bombing.
Mo’ne Davis: Like, it's one of those things where you don't believe it's true. That's something we literally just watched on film, and then it happens in real life. I feel like that kind of set a tone for the tour and, like, what to expect, because that stuff happened in the past and it's still happening until this day.
Steve Bandura: For one, that made me realize that they were paying attention during our study sessions. Two, that they get it, and they felt the gravity of that. Because one of the main lessons I would try to teach the kids through that whole six months of studying was that listen, just because laws change, doesn't mean that people's attitudes change along with those rules. It's a lot harder to change someone's attitude than it is to change a law.
Scott Bandura: It was really powerful for us to realize that this is all still going on and it's going to be up to us to change it. And I think that story breaking on the first morning of the tour really hammered that message home.
Steve Bandura: And nothing could have been made that hit home stronger than that massacre at Emanuel AME. And we had a morning tour of the White House scheduled, but the biggest highlight of the tour came later that afternoon when we met with Congressman John Lewis at his office.
Scott Bandura: And just being able to talk to him after we had just watched all those documentaries and all those things where he was right there on the front lines, everyone was just kind of starstruck. And he was so personable and so friendly, and was willing to open up and tell us some stories. And especially with how things are now, him having just passed away, I think it's just a lot more powerful. And I'll forever be appreciative of that.
Steve Bandura: And that's because of all of the education we gave them before we left. John Lewis was a rock star. I mean, every documentary we watched, he's on the Freedom Rides and he's at the March on Washington and he's on the bridge at Selma. He is willing to sacrifice everything for the cause. So he really was a rock star to the kids, and it was just an amazing, amazing meeting with him in his office.
Carter Davis: So I just remember having him be like a primary source for some of his experiences and some of his stories that he was sharing with us were just so raw. And the fact that I got to meet him in the first place is just something that I absolutely think is incredible. But the fact that we also not only just got to, like, shake his hand, but got to hear from him, his experiences growing up, his experiences with Martin Luther King. I think that is something that would stick with me for a while.
Steve Bandura: He spent a lot of time with us. He told some amazing stories from his time in the movement and up until now and how, you know, he's still fighting to this day. And I mean, we got his raw reaction to the events in Charleston. What happened in Charleston shows the need for the younger generation, for kids like them to stay, you know, fighting for their rights, and fighting for justice and equality. He was just amazing with the kids.
Scott Bandura: So there was one story that I remember he told us. He got a letter from the son of one of the people in the mob that stopped the bus and beat all the Freedom Riders. And he got a letter from the son asking if they could meet with his father. And Congressman Lewis had the love in his heart to accept. And so he met with the son and his father. The father just wanted to apologize and he was—everyone in the room was brought to tears and Congressman Lewis forgave him. And it was really powerful just because when someone like him who has been through all of this stuff he's been through, it's probably really easy to have a lot of hate in your heart. But he had the power to love and forgive. And I think it's one of the most powerful, emotional stories that I've ever heard.
Steve Bandura: After we left John Lewis, it was just—I mean, it was weird because the kids were so excited meeting him, and they were excited walking to the bus. And then we got on the bus and within five minutes it was dead silent, and you could just tell it wasn't that they were tired and falling asleep. They were just reflecting. You could see it on their faces. There was very little conversation going on until we got back to the hotel to change for the game that night. But the gravity of it, the power of what had happened and meeting John Lewis immediately after, just—it was incredible. I mean, you could just tell it resonated with them. They were just reflecting on all of that. And they still do to this day.
Steve Bandura: We head to Atlanta. And Atlanta was again, another really great stop on the tour, really educational stop. We went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which was fairly new at that time. And if you haven't been there, it is an amazing place. They've done an incredible job. We were on a Civil Rights floor before we had to leave, and they have a lunch counter exhibit there, where you actually sit at the lunch counter, put your hands on the table, you wear headphones and you hear people yelling at you in your ear and kicking your chair. Like, the chairs will move and it was just—it was eerie.
Mo’ne Davis: And we put headphones on, and you just hear, like, knocking. And it sounds like people are, like, talking to you. And you have to sit there with your hands on the counter and just close your eyes, and it literally sounds like someone's, like, right in your ear talking. Like, it just feels so real. And I wanted to try it out and I did it, and I felt like there was—like, I had started turning left and right, looking behind me because that's how real it felt. And I was—like, my heart just started beating and I was like, "This is what people went through? And they just sat here during this and people were harassing them." But that was one of—like, super scary for me just because I didn't know what to do. It was fake, but to me it just felt so real, like, just sitting there with your eyes closed and headphones on and just listening. Like, it was pretty scary. And as soon as that, I got up and I ran. I couldn't even finish it. I think I was, like, 20 seconds in and I just got up and I just ran with the rest of the group, and I was like, "Yeah, I can't do that."
Steve Bandura: But like I said, our schedule was so tight, we left the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and we headed to Turner Field. The Atlanta Braves were out of town, but we had a meet and greet with Hank Aaron. The kids were asking him questions and most of them weren't baseball questions, which I was really proud of. Like, I didn't prep these kids. I just told them, you know, think of some questions to ask Mr. Aaron. And, like, the first question that was asked was what was it like growing up in Alabama, being a kid in Alabama when you were our age in Jim Crow South? It was really educational for the kids, and he was just great with the kids.
Steve Bandura: We leave Atlanta and we're heading for Birmingham, but along the way, we make sure and take a detour and go to Anniston, Alabama and visit the site. There's a historical marker off the highway, hard to find. It took us a while to find it but we finally found it. It's a historical marker commemorating the Freedom Rides. And that was where the first Freedom Ride bus was burned, was firebombed right there on the highway.
Jared Sprague-Lott: That was honestly a very scary moment because you could still tell that the area around there was very hostile, and I was scared because we were an all-Black team on a bus traveling through that area, stopping, getting out, and taking a picture. It just felt like that history wasn't too long ago.
Scott Bandura: And in the windows of one of the houses that was kind of right next to the memorial was a really huge Confederate flag just hanging in the window. And it just made it, like, that much more powerful. Like, things haven't really changed that much and it was just kind of like that juxtaposition of, like, a memorial for this historic event and then the exact opposite connotations right next to it was really crazy to see for us. We definitely did see some correlation between us and kind of the Freedom Riders as we were going through the South.
Steve Bandura: And this is the day after the flag came down in South Carolina, the Confederate flag. And that was a big issue going on following Charleston.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Hey everybody, we’ve cooked up something new. Educators can earn a certificate issued by Learning for Justice for one hour of professional development just by listening to this episode. All you have to do is go to learningforjustice.org/podcastpd, “PD” for professional development. That’s podcastpd—all one word. Then enter the special code word for this episode, “outfield,” all lowercase. You’ll also find a link in the show notes.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: A year before the Anderson Monarchs began their barnstorming tour, several members played in the 2014 Little League World Series. Mo’ne Davis gained national attention when she became the first girl to ever pitch a shutout in series history. She was also the first girl to win a game, and the first African-American girl to ever play in the annual tournament. Afterward, Mo’ne appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she was a guest on the Tonight Show, and her jersey now hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. So as the Monarchs traveled the country on their bus, the press followed.
Steve Bandura: The next morning, we started off at the Birmingham Civil Rights District. First stop was 16th Street Baptist Church.
Mo’ne Davis: When we were in Alabama, we went to the 16th Street Baptist Church where the four girls died when they were 14. And it happened to be my birthday and I turned 14. And we got to sit in the church and, you know, walk the same route that they were walking when, you know, the bomb exploded. I feel like that was a moment where no one had words. One girl's sister was talking to us and she was asking, like, if anyone has questions, and it was just like dead silent because everyone was just speechless.
Steve Bandura: At that time, people in the media followed Mo’ne everywhere, and someone asked her, what are her thoughts on the girls that were her age getting killed. And I figured that the gravity of this moment and her being 14, you know, this would be one time I'll allow the media to interview her.
Mo’ne Davis: Since I turned 14 that day, it was like these girls were the same age as me, like, doing what they do every Sunday, just going to church and hanging out with their friends and now, you know, a bomb went off. Like, it was a surreal moment, and something, like, I still can't put into words and it's been almost six years now.
Steve Bandura: She said it was just really sad because you will never know what those girls could have accomplished in their lives. You know, all our guys are that age and to have them taken away for no reason whatsoever, I just can't imagine.
Steve Bandura: And then later that night we played a baseball game against the Willie Mays RBI. Willie Mays was from Birmingham. He actually played for the Birmingham Black Barons in the Negro Leagues before he went to the major leagues. And the field that the Birmingham Black Barons used back then, called Rickwood Field, is still there and it's been kind of refurbished but still looks like it did back then. And it's an unbelievable park. I think it's the oldest baseball stadium in the country. And in preparation for that we had new uniforms made, our kids, we had Philadelphia Stars uniforms made for them. We didn't wear our Monarchs uniforms that day, we wore our Philadelphia Stars uniforms, which Philadelphia Stars was the Negro League team in Philadelphia in the first half of the 20th century. And we actually bought uniforms for the other team we were playing, for the Willie Mays RBI team. We bought them Birmingham Black Barons uniforms. And everyone had the high socks, you know, and the uniforms were like exact replicas. Everybody on the teams were Black, so you have this stadium that looks like 1935, and two teams dressed in Negro League uniforms, It looked like a game from 1935. It was incredible. Except for the girl on the mound.
Steve Bandura: So after Birmingham, we go to Montgomery, the first place we went was the Rosa Parks Library and Museum at Troy University. And they have a replica of the bus that Rosa Parks sat on, and I think we were the first group to ever visit that had a bus older than that one. I'm getting phone calls, we're going to the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center and, “You have to get here, you got to get here now.” We found out, yeah, Morris Dees and Joe Levin who founded the SPLC were there waiting to meet the kids and greet the kids, which was really cool.
Steve Bandura: We get to Selma and we were greeted by the mayor. George Evans was the mayor, and he greets the kids and he walks the bridge with us. He arranged for traffic to be pushed to one side of the bridge, and we walked the bridge, same route that, you know, John Lewis and the marchers took. And again, knowing the history of it before we got there and seeing those scenes so many times, coming down on the downside of that bridge and looking out to where all the state troopers would have been waiting for the marchers, it was just eerie. And all the kids are just picturing those state troopers waiting at the bottom with their billy clubs and tear gas and on their horses. And we got to talk to some people that were actually there on Bloody Sunday. The kids were just absolutely just blown away listening to people that were actually there on that day.
Steve Bandura: After Selma, we head to Jackson, Mississippi to Medgar Evers home. And I didn't think it would be as powerful as it was and as impactful as it was at the Evers home, but I think what really hit home for the kids was that his kids were there when their father was shot and killed right in the driveway in front of their house.
Jared Sprague-Lott: They still had the beds in there that were low to the ground because of the extreme measures that his family had to go to stay safe in that environment, and the bullet hole was still on the wall from when they assassinated him.
Steve Bandura: You know, it's one thing to see it on a documentary or read about what happened, but to be at the house, standing in that driveway on the spot where he fell. You know, I still remember one kid putting his finger on the bullet hole that ripped through one of the walls in the house and just seeing him tear up. Just going to that house doesn't seem like it would be a big thing, but it was.
Steve Bandura: After Jackson, Mississippi, we head to Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit Little Rock Central High School. I've never seen a school building that was so big. Pictures don't do it justice. Which tells you that there were, you know, a couple thousand kids in that school, and there were only nine Black kids and none of those 2,000 wanted you there.
Steve Bandura: We met with Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton who was a student the following year at Little Rock Central High. She had become a student at Little Rock the year after and she talked about how she went three years through that school and not one person ever spoke with her in those three years. I mean, high school is difficult to begin with, but if nobody's going to talk to you and everybody hates you and doesn't want you there and they're yelling derogatory things at you, I mean it's a nightmare. But, you know, this is what people were willing to do to further the cause.
Steve Bandura: After Little Rock, we head to Memphis to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. Reading about it, seeing the video and the pictures from Dr. King's assassination is powerful, but being there and looking up at that balcony where it happened is a hundred times more powerful and impactful. And they had a really great Civil Rights Museum there, but for the kids just being there at the site where Dr. King was assassinated is a lifelong memory for them that they'll never forget.
Steve Bandura: Then went to Louisville, Kentucky, where we visited and toured through the Ali Cente. Then on to Cincinnati and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Headed out to Pittsburgh, on the way, stopped at the Ohio State University, where we met Professor Jeffries. Then we went to Pittsburgh, Binghamton, Cooperstown, New York, where we played a game on historic Doubleday Field where—at least the story goes—baseball was invented. It's not really what happened, but it's a great story, so everybody sticks to it. We then went to Boston, New York, Harlem and then finished our tour at the MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey and then back home to Philadelphia.
Steve Bandura: I'd say for the average teacher, it would be difficult to go out and get a 1947 bus and travel 4,500 miles with a group of kids and visit these sites personally. But every city, every area has civil rights history. And no matter what area you’re in, I think there's always some way to tie this into your geographic area, maybe somewhere to take a day trip. Or there might be people in the area you could bring into the classroom that had lived through that and experienced that, and they could share their experiences with the kids. As a former middle school teacher in an inner-city community, I feel like the most important thing to do for your kids is to teach them the history from the beginning. Don't just jump into the civil rights movement or jump into Dr. King or even Rodney King. The kids will not get it unless they can put it in context and see the timeline. And they can't understand what's going on today if they don't know what happened in the past. And they can't understand the civil rights movement unless they knew about Jim Crow. And they can't understand Jim Crow unless they knew about Reconstruction and then slavery. And they have to understand that this all didn't start with Dr. King. And I'm all for Dr. King getting everything he deserves, he's one of the greatest heroes of our lifetime, but, you know, you can't understand what he went through unless you know what led up to that and the people that paved the way for him before that.
Brandon Gibbs: Don't just go over the civil rights. You have to go in depth and go deeper into it and explain.
Carter Davis: I think that the school system, as it is right now, kind of just glosses over a lot of things. You have to really see the things that aren't discussed on such a broad level, like the major events that everyone is so familiar with.
Mo’ne Davis: I feel like in schools, we just don't go deep into the civil rights movement. It's kind of just like, Martin Luther King, John Lewis, the March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but like, we don't go into details about those things. And it's a huge part of history, and sometimes it makes it seem like it was hundreds of years ago, but it really wasn't that long ago.
Steve Bandura: It's the same way in sports and baseball. You can't appreciate Jackie Robinson unless you know what those Negro League players went through before him and what they fought for. It always gets me every year April 15, Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson and how courageous he was and what he did and he broke the color line, but they never say he broke the color line that we set. You know? It was the Major Leagues that set that color barrier in the first place, but they never seem to bring that up. For my kids to know the history of baseball in Philadelphia and the Negro Leagues and Jackie Robinson and, you know, what went on in the exact field they're playing on, makes all the difference in the world.
Mo’ne Davis: How can I put this? So basically, people that look like me, you know, same skin color, gender, whatever, we wouldn't be playing the sports that we're playing now if they didn't fight for our freedom then. And I feel like a lot of people just don't really think about that.
Steve Bandura: For the teachers out there, I mean, I know sometimes this can be uncomfortable, and you feel like you don't know enough to teach it or you don't want to get it wrong or you feel like it's not my right or place to teach Black kids about their history. I'm white. I went through all that. I felt that, too, but the bottom line is this: if you're teaching real history, which is facts, you're teaching facts, it doesn't matter where it's coming from. If you're giving the kids the facts, it doesn't matter if it's a Black teacher, a white teacher teaching them those facts. The important thing is that they get those facts. And there are so many people out there that don't know anything about this history and it's not your fault because it's never been taught.
Mo’ne Davis: I forgot who was but someone always told me, you know, be comfortable with being uncomfortable. That's a good way to be open minded and, you know, step out of your comfort zone. A lot of things that went on, they are pretty harsh, but that's the history. Like, you can't kind of melt the history away and everything that happened. Like, you just gotta tell it straight up.
Scott Bandura: And it's kind of like those diagrams you see of the icebergs where you see the top of the iceberg above the water, but underneath there's a hundred thousand tons more ice underneath the water. And that was all of the knowledge that we had gained before the tour and then just getting to be in those places and meet those people was just icing on the cake at that point.
Steve Bandura: If you want to email me or contact me, I will send you everything we did during our six-month trainings, our Friday night trainings. I'll send you every documentary we watched. I'll tell you what was great, what worked, what could have been better or what I could have done better, and I'd be thrilled to share that with anybody that wants to contact me. My email address is "S" as in Steve, s.bandura, B-A-N-D-U-R-A, @andersonmonarchs.org. And like I said, I'd be thrilled to help anybody that wants the help.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Music was vital to the civil rights movement, and continues to be critical to global freedom struggles today. In our final installment of Movement Music, historian Charles Hughes takes us out to the ballgame to hear how music has connected baseball and civil rights. Here’s Charles.
[Count Basie “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?”]
Charles Hughes: The song shouts out not only the legendary #42, but also other all-stars of the first generation of integrated baseball, subtly acknowledging the Major League’s debt to the still-vital Negro Leagues. The Count Basie Orchestra, one of the preeminent big bands of the swing era, was well aware of the history-making implication of their musical question.
Charles Hughes: Sports and music have long played similar roles in the fight for Black freedom. Both created opportunities and breakthroughs, both provided Black representation and heroes. Both reflected and were reflected in political battles, and both were battlegrounds themselves, as activists fought for access and equality.
Charles Hughes: Sports and music often intersected. Black musicians collaborated with athletes, from Motown to Beyoncé, and tributes to key Black sports figures appear in music of all eras. Like future tributes to Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Serena Williams and many Black superstars, this track celebrates a persistence that led to achievements on the field and in the Movement.
Charles Hughes: Black people found a voice in music and sports—sometimes in combination—to articulate broader questions of life, identity, and resistance.
[Sister Sledge “We Are Family”]
Charles Hughes: In 1979, baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series. The decade began with the team fielding the first entirely Black and Latinx starting lineup, but also with the death of hall-of-famer Roberto Clemente. The Pirates’ victories were a testament to the leadership of stars like Willie Stargell and Manny Sanguillen. As the team launched its run to the championship, a single and somewhat unexpected song became its anthem.
Charles Hughes: “We Are Family,” performed by Sister Sledge, and written and produced by the band Chic, was a smash hit and dance floor anthem. Echoing disco’s utopian visions and endless groove, “We Are Family” praised a glorious sisterhood and expansive community.
Charles Hughes: The song may have seemed like a strange fit, but the 1979 Pirates team and their fans embraced the song’s energy and spirit as a salute to their magical season. That same year, the “Disco Demolition Night” in Chicago symbolized the white, straight, male backlash to disco. “We Are Family” signaled a crucial counter-narrative, a synthesis of dance music’s joyful resilience and sports’ we’ll-get-them-next-time attitude of renewal. Both of which, by the way, are essential elements to the energies of the civil rights movement.
Charles Hughes: The conversation continues, remixed for a new century, new figures, new sounds and new realities. But the legacies and the echoes are still there for us to find. All we need to do is keep listening.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I never saw Jackie Robinson hit that ball. But my father did. And he played Count Basie’s song for me over and over again, to make sure baseball was in my blood. And I played that song for my daughters over and over again, to make sure baseball was in their blood. We are family, after all. By blood. By love. By baseball. And by community. Be sure to check out our latest Spotify playlist. Dr. Hughes has curated dozens of songs that amplify even more of the ideas raised in this episode. Just follow the link in the show notes at learningforjustice.org/podcast. Now, let’s return to my conversation with Dr. White.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Derrick, how cool would it have been to be on that trip as a little leaguer?
Derrick White: Oh, man. That would have been the most amazing thing possible.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Bananas, man. It would have been bananas. I'd have loved it, right?
Derrick White: Although, I don't know how I feel about the no air conditioning in the summer in some of those cities. But other than that, I mean, you get to go to Atlanta and meet Hank Aaron.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Hank Aaron.
Derrick White: You get to meet John Lewis. Like, you’d watched all this stuff! And you're like, “Oh, that's John Lewis!” Like, I was amazed that the kids asked amazing questions. I thought that was the other part, too.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Yeah.
Derrick White: You could tell that they were not just going through the motions in the Friday night study sessions in the months before the trip. They were really taking it in. It was clearly life changing. And yeah, we missed out. That's what that is.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And that was critical. It was the preparation before the trip, those Friday night study sessions, the documentary films. I thought that was what was truly phenomenal about the whole experience.
Derrick White: They did the homework, right?
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Right, right, right.
Derrick White: They did the homework. And the homework allowed them to appreciate the moment.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: One of the coolest things about the Monarchs' tour was that they got to ride in that old bus, you know with no air condition and no Wi-Fi. And it was replicating to a certain extent, sort of the experience of all teams as they traveled from ballpark to ballpark before the jet era. But it made me wonder about the experiences of Black athletes during the civil rights era, so during the late 1950s, during the 1960s, as they traveled, as they moved from Chicago and Milwaukee and eventually into the South in Atlanta, Georgia, for example. Or moving out West, what were the experience—or in Boston, right? What were some of the experiences for Black athletes along the color line, not only for Black baseball players, but for a Bill Russell, for example, and others?
Derrick White: You know, one of the things you see with travel, at least, is that baseball took, I think, particular care to try to make sure that the teams had their own rail cars when they rode by train, for instance. They would have their own buses. They try to limit the kind of hostility that integrated travel created for most African Americans, right? One of the things that I like to remind students is that the reason that travel was so precarious is that, you know, the segregated railcar was, you know, in many ways dirty and smoke filled and crowded for African Americans, especially for middle-class African Americans who felt that they had a right and the ability to pay for better circumstances. But when we also think about the Green's Auto Guide, right, that is a guide for travel that African Americans used to tell them where they could stop for gas and where they could stop for it to eat. These things are real kinds of issues that teams have to think about.
Derrick White: I always talk to students to get them to consider the things about logistics. Like, you don't just desegregate your team. You also have to think about who's going to stay with him on the road. Are you going to allow him to stay by himself in a room, in a hotel? Will the hotel even serve them, right? Where do they eat? Like, all of these things that are into the travel process. Additionally, one of the big issues facing Black ballplayers, much like the Black middle-class, is where do they live, right? That they will eventually, by the mid '50s and into the '60s, be making more than the average African-American worker, that will allow them to move into middle-class housing in middle-class neighborhoods. Many of these middle-class neighborhoods were highly segregated and that African Americans really struggled. And so Jackie Robinson talks about not being able to buy a home. That these guys are rooting for them and the Dodgers to win the World Series, but they don't want him to live next door to them. These experiences for Black athletes will continue well into the 1970s, right? That they have a difficult time of translating their athletic and financial success into stable housing. And I think that's one of the big areas.
Derrick White: And so I think we can use sports as a way of getting into kind of the broader structural issues of the civil rights movement. One of the things that when I teach the civil rights movement is to get students to think beyond integration, right? So thinking that, okay, once we integrate, you know, once the white and colored signs go down, the civil rights movement is over. But reality, as you and I both know, we're translating, we're moving into structural areas. As King says that he's talking about structural issues, about housing, about the ways in which race is embedded into the very fibers of America. And that Black athletes experience this on a day-to-day basis, in many cases earlier than King actually gets to this conversation. That they experience this in the '50s and the early '60s. And King comes to this point really beginning in Chicago in '65, through his assassination in 1968.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: One of the characteristics of the master narrative, which we've been talking about throughout this whole season of the podcast, is this obsession with the "Black first". And I think Jackie Robinson really epitomizes that. That, you know, once you get the Black first, the first Black ballplayer in this modern era, World War II era of baseball, that that really represented what the goal of the Black freedom struggle was. And so, therefore, it is okay to turn the camera and look elsewhere. You broke the ceiling, the glass ceiling or whatever it was, you jumped over the Jim Crow line. But the story doesn't end there. When we think about, sort of, the desegregation and the actual integration of major sports, whether professional or amateur. What should we be telling our students about the aftermath of these historic moments, the aftermath of 1947, when it comes to desegregating and then fully integrating professional sports?
Derrick White: I think we always have to remind folks that it is a process, and a long process that is full of fits and starts. We always note that April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson breaks the color line in Major League Baseball, but it's not until 1959 that every team in Major League Baseball had its first Black player, right? So 12 years. We forget that it's 12 years before the Red Sox finally sign their first Black player. So the Red Sox had the chance to sign Jackie Robinson in '45, and it takes them all the way to 1959 before they sign their first Black player, Pumpsie Green.
Derrick White: We can see this as a process that spring training is still in the South. That the Dodgers most famously, basically rent and buy an entire—create Dodgertown, so that their Black players, Roy Campanella ...
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Don Newcombe.
Derrick White: Don Newcombe, as well as Jackie Robinson, could exist in an integrated space. And so they create Dodgertown in Vero Beach. But the rest of Major League Baseball is struggling to figure out how they're going to deal with their Black players. Where are they going to house them? Where do they live? Where do they eat, right? Most of the spring training is still in Florida. And so, it's not until between 1961 and 1964 that we see spring training slowly begin to desegregate. I want us to think about, like, Jackie Robinson has retired by the time this happens, right? Like, for the rest of the league, like, that's a process, right. We’re still talking about positional segregation, right? That there were particular positions that Black players were not seen to be able to play. And so they get pushed into the outfield. They couldn't play catcher, for instance, which was because they called all the plays, this was the thinking part of the game. So, there are all kinds of nuances and understanding that when those things kind of flow away, then we can really start having a conversation about integration. And that's not really until the mid to late '60s and even into the early '70s, right? You start to see a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates, the “We Are Family” teams of the mid to late '70s of the Pittsburgh Pirates where you’re like, man, they got, like, seven Black guys starting on their roster, right? Like, this is a big deal for this really to move into that kind of thinking, beyond just having one or two players. That's really the push for integration.
Derrick White: And we see that across all sports. I mean, we're still having this conversation in professional football about Black quarterbacks, right? Like, they have been accepted, but every year at this time, as we head into the draft, the NFL draft, it's like the Black quarterback is being poked and prodded and his game being torn apart. Behind those critiques, many of which may be correct, is this looming assumption that Black men cannot play the quarterback position, right? And so, I think all these sports are facing a distinction between desegregation and integration. And I think that one of the challenges for teachers is to really pay attention to that process. To not just celebrate the "first", but to really get your students to buy in and understand the process, that between '47 and '59, or '47 and '64 is really, we're talking about an entire process for the integration of Major League Baseball.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Often when we talk about race in sports, we talk about the color line and we talk about the civil rights movement and sports in particular, we focus only on Jackie Robinson. Or if we're really feeling fancy, we may hit 1968 and the Olympics and John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising a black gloved fist. But if we look in between those, if we take those as sort of chronological bookends, if you will, what are some of the other major moments in sports that could be used as prisms through which to understand the Civil Rights Movement as it was taking place and occurring during that period?
Derrick White: Yeah, I think there are obviously a number of examples, but I think I want to focus on one that I think opens the door for us to really think about some contemporary issues in sports as well. In 1965, the American Football League, which was at the time a competing league to the NFL, had their All-Star game in New Orleans. And the AFL at the time was extremely aggressive in trying to find talent that could compete professionally with the NFL. So they were paying high salaries. Most famously, Joe Namath got this astronomical salary out of Alabama to sign with the Jets, as opposed to signing ...
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Joe Willie Namath. Joe Willie Namath.
Derrick White: Joe Willie Namath.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Broadway Joe.
Derrick White: I knew you knew this as a New Yorker. I had to give you, you know, had to give you something.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Appreciate it.
Derrick White: But one of the things that the AFL does, I think is tremendous in this competition for talent is that they really begin to mine historically Black colleges. And so they are able to sign a number of Black athletes, and many of them from HBCUs. And so they make this All-Star Game in 1965 in New Orleans. And so they get there, these Black athletes are ready to have a good time on Bourbon Street, and they find that the clubs and the restaurants are closing their doors to them. And so they go and they're like, “Look, we're not playing in this game.” And the league frets. Like, they're like, “Oh, my gosh. What are we going to do?” They ultimately move the All-Star Game, the 1965 All-Star Game, out of New Orleans to Houston, right?
Derrick White: And I think this is as important for a couple of reasons. One is that it signals that these professional sports leagues in particular are willing to use sports as a barometer to the kinds of race relations they would like to be seeing from particular host cities. And so when New Orleans fails to live up to this idea, this promise of providing its Black athletes equal accommodations and equal experiences, the AFL moves the All-Star Game. And I think it's important that they move it not to Chicago or not to some Northern city, but to Houston, right? Because Houston, too, is signaling to these professional teams and these professional leagues that, hey, we too, are a world class, 20th-century city that is ready to put our racial past behind us, and we're going to host this game and provide opportunities.
Derrick White: And so that AFL gives us a signal to really how we can understand this entire period in which, at the height of the civil rights movement from 1963 to 1970, that we see Southern cities really making this shift to say, “Hey, we want to put that racist, the dire racism of the early '60s and the '50s behind us, and we want to be a modern city.” And the way that they could signal that they were a modern city is by having a sports franchise, and particularly a professional sports franchise. And so it's in the 1960s that you see, as you noted earlier, that the Milwaukee Braves move to Atlanta, right? And Atlanta at the time had crafted this very careful narrative of a city that's too busy to hate, which in reality was still equally racist, but it did not have someone like Governor Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door screaming segregation in the city of Atlanta, right? That Coca-Cola and the corporations were trying to signal.
Derrick White: We see this in Houston. We see this in New Orleans, eventually. Tampa Bay, Miami. That these Southern cities in particular are trying to sell what they say, good race relations as a means to lure professional sports franchises to their cities. And so we can see this kind of boosterism happening, right? And so the league, in this case, Major League Baseball or the AFL, are insisting on what we would describe as good race relations in order for a franchise to be located in any of these cities, while city officials are also championing this kind of notion of desegregation as a means to signal that they are no longer like their rural counterparts in their same state, to be perfectly honest. And so there's this really kind of interesting juxtaposition that's happening between the urban areas.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This is Teaching Hard History, and I’m your host, Hasan Kwame Jeffries. To continue making this podcast a valuable resource, we need your input. You can help us by taking a few minutes to complete our brief listener survey. Just click on the link in the show notes or visit learningforjustice.org/podcast. It’s only 10 questions, and your feedback will help us make each episode even more impactful for educators just like you. Now let’s hear more from historian Derrick White.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: When we think about Black athletes during the height of civil rights-era protest, one name, I think, jumps to the forefront of many people's minds, and that is Muhammad Ali, formerly Cassius Clay. What are some recommendations that you have for teachers for how to teach Muhammad Ali, and using his athletic career, his activism, his life as a prism to sort of understand the broader implications of what the movement was about, and also what Black life in America and the color line was about during this high point of civil rights protests?
Derrick White: Yeah, I think there's a couple of things. I liken it to there are four Black male athletes—and I want to be very clear that these are male athletes—that get on the national scene. These are the first Black athletes that white Americans are actually rooting for. Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. Joe Lewis because of the Max Schmeling in World War II. Eventually, Jackie Robinson. And then at the very tail end of this, that Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, is riding this wave of success that they have opened, right? And so, Cassius Clay, he's an Olympic gold medalist in 1960. He's expected to do great things. He's loquacious. He's controversial, charismatic, as he would say, he's handsome, right? But he is expected to fulfill the next generation of the great Black heavyweight like Floyd Patterson, like Joe Lewis, who was supposed to not only be a great fighter, but a champion for the race. And what makes Ali so unusual, and really signaling the changes in the broader civil rights movement is that he rejects that role for himself. That by 1963, he's in full engagement with the Nation of Islam, a religious organization that believed in Black nationalism and believed in separatism. And so when he defeats Sonny Liston in 1964, he immediately, almost within days, announces that he has joined the Nation of Islam. The reports ahead of the fight, the newspaper reports, even the white papers are like, wait, we know Malcolm X is down here in Miami Beach, right, like, hanging out with Cassius Clay.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Right.
Derrick White: And so there's a sense that this young man who had everything that the white sports world was willing to give a Black athlete, was really willing to reject it. And I think that speaks to the really kind of emerging changes that we see in the civil rights movement, that young people are starting to question the strategy and tactics of the nonviolent direct action parts of the movement led by King, and that they are willing to engage and consider Black nationalism, right? And that they too are influenced by the—I think, Malcolm X's brilliant analysis of American racism. That they are frustrated by the slow pace of change between 1954 and 1964. A decade was a long time, right? Given the kind of continued activism that we had seen between Brown v. Board of Education and Ali winning a title. So he fits into that broader movement.
Derrick White: And I think what makes Ali even more unique in this particular moment is that once he joins the Nation of Islam, by 1966, his draft status is changed from 1Y to 1A, which was first, 1Y is not eligible for the draft to 1A is immediately eligible. And he is threatened with induction into the Vietnam War. And he rejects that, and he says that he is a minister of the Nation of Islam. He's got no quarrel with the Vietcong. He expands this analysis to say, “Look, why am I going all the way over to fight some people that I don't know and don't understand, when Black folks is catching all kinds of discrimination in America right now.
Derrick White: And so, Ali goes to jail, right? He loses his title. He's stripped of his title at the prime of his career. And that was really—that kind of sacrifice we hadn't seen before. Ali was willing to stand and face these charges and the consequences on his conviction. And I think that was a really powerful motivation and a rejection of the kind of ethos that we expected sports and athletes to do.
Derrick White: Now I want to say one thing really clear here is that this trajectory is often extremely male, right? And one of the things that we see beginning in the 1940s, well into the 1960s, is that Black women are very much part of this, what I call sporting congregation as well. And they are trapped in some similar ways that we see many of our African-American women activists who are talking about that they are experiencing racism and sexism at the same time. And they are trying to navigate this arena. And so two examples I think are important to note here. Someone like Althea Gibson, the tennis star, the first African-American woman to win Wimbledon and the French Open and the US Open. A Florida A&M grad to come through the Black Tennis Association, the ATA. But in many ways, when she got to the peak of her powers, she just refused to play into that role of a race woman. That she didn't want to talk about racism. She didn't want to be Jackie Robinson, in many ways. She wanted to be a great tennis player.
Derrick White: And the Black press chastised her for not taking on a more active role in critiquing race relations in America, and not using her position as a tennis star. That's on one side. On the other side, we see someone like Ed Temple, who is the track and field coach at Tennessee State University, a historically Black college in Nashville. At the same time, he's developing one of the—the probably greatest track and field program in American history. You know, that he's offering opportunities for these African-American women, and so he's helping them as a country, restore women's track and field to a place of honor and support from the broader US government, but he's also providing these opportunities for these African-American women, most notably Wilma Rudolph, who wins three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, and Wyomia Tyus, who wins back-to-back gold medals in the 100-meter dash in 1964 and 1968. At the same time, these women, they are doing a lot of the Jackie Robinson work. They in many ways are embodying some of the same ideas that Jesse Owens had embodied in 1936. And so we see that the role for Black women athletes is often equally, I think, complex. And we should make sure that we talk about the ways in which they operate in the same space in the 1940s to the 1960s as well.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: One of the challenges with teaching the civil rights movement is that it doesn't fit neatly into standard curriculums. But it can be fully incorporated if you know what sort of points of entry to focus on. How would you suggest teachers incorporate what we have talked about into their teaching of this era, this moment in American history?
Derrick White: No, I think it's always a great question, because we have to take the concepts and ideas that we discuss about race and sports and the intersection therein and figure out the ways in which it can be implemented into the classroom. And I think obviously there's many excellent strategies. I think two that I use in my own work that I think really bear themselves out, and I think they're important. One is I absolutely highly suggest to teachers that they read in their own time I Never Had It Made, Jackie Robinson’s autobiography. In particular, there are two sections to this autobiography. The first part is the traditional Jackie Robinson narrative. In fact, the title of that section is “The Noble Experiment,” and it really covers his entry into Major League Baseball and his time as a professional baseball player in the major leagues and the challenges therein. But I always point to the “After the Ballgame” section of the book. And it talks about the ways in which he is really grappling with, as a retired player, what does it mean as the civil rights movement emerges? And there's chapters about him being a Black Republican. There's a chapter outlining his differences with Malcolm X. It talks about his disillusionment with white politics as well as the influence of Martin Luther King. And so I think that those kinds of topics are the topics that we really want to think about when we talk about how do we expand Jackie Robinson and how do we expand sports beyond the first? This is an opportunity using Jackie Robinson's own words to really discuss the ways in which race and sport go beyond being, you know, the first to desegregate a particular game.
Derrick White: In any number of classrooms, both in the K through 12 as well as at the collegiate level, there are going to be a number of students whose worlds revolve around sports. They read the sports page. They follow their favorite players. They play Madden and 2K. Their evenings are filled with practices and trainings. And I think that bringing sports into the classroom is a way to bridge the love of sports with the academic enterprise that is the interrogation of sports history as well as the civil rights movement. And it makes it very real. And I think that it provides an opportunity to use a popular subject like sports to draw interest into the historical enterprise. And I think that for me personally, you know, I always remind students that, like, the first books that I can remember reading about were, like, Magic Johnson. I did math by computing batting averages. And I think that those lessons stick with me as I became a professional historian. And I think that that's one of the reasons that I've approached this subject. And I think that there's a lot of value, that students don't realize that they can study sports in the same ways that they study the civil rights movement or literature or things of that nature. And that can be part and parcel of this process.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: D-White, thank you for helping us understand, not only the importance of sports and African-American athletes and coaches and institutions and teams, but really that close connection between sports and the civil rights movement. Can't thank you enough for dropping that dime on us, brother.
Derrick White: Thank you for having me.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Absolutely, man.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Derrick E. White is an associate professor of history and African- American and Africana studies at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of two books: Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Jake Gaither, Florida A&M, and the History of Black College Football, and The Challenge of Blackness: The Institute of the Black World and Political Activism in the 1970s. Dr. White also co-hosts the podcast The Black Athlete with Professor Louis Moore. You can find a link to their podcast in the show notes.
Steve Bandura is the founder and program director of the Anderson Monarchs—a sports-based, youth development organization based in South Philadelphia. He wrote a chapter about their 2015 barnstorming tour in Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement titled, “They won’t just be reading about history—they’ll be living it”. Coach Steve is also a Recreation Leader for the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation.
Mo’ne Davis is majoring in communications at Hampton University. While she's played most positions on the field—including second base for the Hampton Lady Pirates—Ms. Davis is best known as a pitcher for the Anderson Monarchs.
Carter Davis also pitched and played outfield for the Monarchs. Now he’s playing for the Diplomats at Franklin & Marshall College, where he is majoring in philosophy.
Scott Bandura spent years as a catcher for the Monarchs, but now plays outfield for the Princeton Tigers, where he’s studying economics.
Brandon Gibbs played the hot corner for the Monarchs. Now he studies and plays ball at Delaware State University.
Jared Sprague-Lott is a freshman at the University of Richmond where he plays shortstop, just like he did in Philadelphia.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And each summer, these student-athletes return to Philadelphia and take the field once again with the next generation of Anderson Monarchs.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Teaching Hard History is a podcast from Learning for Justice, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center—helping teachers and schools prepare students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Learning for Justice provides free teaching materials about slavery and the civil rights movement that include award-winning films and classroom-ready texts. You can find these online at LearningforJustice.org.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Most students leave high school without an understanding of the civil rights movement and its continuing relevance. This podcast is part of an effort to change that. We began by talking about slavery for two seasons. And now we’re tracing the legacy of oppression—and resistance—into the present.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Thanks to Dr. White, Coach Steve, and the members of the Anderson Monarchs baseball team for sharing their insights with us. This podcast was produced by Russell Gragg. Our senior producer is Shea Shackelford. “Movement Music” is produced by Barrett Golding. And Anya Malley provides content guidance. Amelia Gragg is our intern. Our managing producer is Miranda LaFond. And Kate Shuster is our executive producer.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Special thanks this episode to Pat Florescio for archival audio and to Helen Huang for transcription assistance.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Our theme song is “The Colors That You Bring” by Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, who graciously let us use it for this series. Additional music is from their album Where Future Unfolds. And from Wendel Patrick's JDWP Tribute.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And if you like what you’ve heard, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And let us know what you think. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And we always appreciate your feedback.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I’m Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries—Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University—and your host for Teaching Hard History.
- Derrick White, African American and Africana Studies, University of Kentucky.
- BlackPast, Rayford W. Logan (1897-1982)
- Society for American Baseball Research, Moses Fleetwood Walker
- Kentucky Derby, Legacy of Black Jockeys
- Baseball Hall of Fame, The Negro National League is Founded
- Baseball Reference, Negro American League
- Baseball Hall of Fame, Rube Foster
- Real Times Media, Chicago Defender (newspaper)
- Real Times Media, New Pittsburgh Courier (newspaper)
- Baseball Hall of Fame, Buck Leonard
- Society for American Baseball Research, Branch Rickey
- MLB.com, Satchel Paige
- Journalism History (Vol 46, No 3), From Baseball Icon to Crusading Columnist: How Jackie Robinson Used His Column in the African-American Press to Continue His Fight for Civil Rights in Sports
- PBS American Masters, Paul Robeson Biography
- Time, Jackie Robinson's Moving Testimony on Racism and Communism
- Anderson Monarchs, Civil Rights Barnstorming Tour
- Anderson Monarchs, Staff (Steve Bandura)
- The Undefeated, Baseball and Belonging: The Anderson Monarchs
- Jim O'Connor, Jackie Robinson and the Story of All Black Baseball
- The New York Times: Opinion, Baseball and Black History (Mo'ne Davis)
- Sports Illustrated, How Mo'ne Davis, Taney captured national fame at Little League World Series
- Mother Emanuel AMEC, Our Story
- U.S. National Park Service, 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing (1963)
- Learning for Justice, Rep. John Lewis
- National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Education
- Learning for Justice, Freedom Riders
- Negro Leagues Baseball eMuseum, Personal Profiles: Willie Mays
- Rickwood Field, History
- PBS American Experience, Eyes on the Prize
- WLBT-TV, A look inside Medgar Evers home/Museum
- US Civil Rights Trail, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
- National Civil Rights Museum, Learn
- University of Chicago Magazine, Picking up where the Little Rock Nine left off (Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton)
- National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Online Learning Resources
- Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, Murder of Octavius Catto
- Wikipedia, Octavius Catto
- Smithsonian Channel, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom (documentary film)
- NBC Sports, Today in Baseball History: Dodgers commit to Dodgertown
- Society for American Baseball Research, June 1, 1979: A comeback victory and beginning of ‘We Are Family’ Pirates
- Smithsonian Magazine, Olympic Athletes Who Took a Stand
- BlackPast, Althea Gibson (1927-2003)
- ESPN, Joe Louis-Max Schmeling: More than just a fight
- Bay Area Television Archive, Muhammad Ali Reflects on the name Cassius Clay
- Tennessee State University, Remembering Ed Temple
- National Women's History Museum, Wilma Rudolph