Race, History, Change, and Social Activism: Baseball’s Impact on America

Erin DiCesare, Ph.D., Interdisciplinary Studies, Johnson C. Smith University

Through this seminar we will explore the history of baseball, not as a sport, but rather a national pastime that tells the racial history of our nation from imperialistic practices to modern social practices. This exploration will take us from the early Negro Leagues, the Civil Rights Movement, Major League’s integration, to the MLB bestowing the Negro League with Major League status while understanding and tracing the social and political strife throughout America’s history. We will explore key figures, what it means for past players who are left out of the Hall of Fame, and how today’s socially activist players are a direct product of America’s racial history and baseball fight for integration. This interdisciplinary approach will show that you do not have to be a baseball fan to participate in the seminar as the goal is to understand that many disciplines have a connection to the history of baseball and America’s history along with exploring the value of baseball to America.

Possible Readings (Select chapters):

One Nation Under Baseball: How the 1960s Collided with the National Pastime

by John Florio , Ouisie Shapiro, et al.

Invisible Men: Life in Baseball’s Negro Leagues

by Donn Rogosin and Monte Irvin

The Negro Leagues Were Major Leagues: Historians Reappraise Black Baseball

by Todd Peterson