The Historical Relationship Between Sports and Race

Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier more than 60 years ago, blacks were only allowed to play in the Negro Baseball League. Author Byron Motley talked about this fascinating era in American sports history at a lecture, “The Negro Baseball Leagues: An American Legacy,” on campus in February.

Motley has a rare insight into the historic league because his father, Bob Motley, umpired in the Negro Leagues for several years. His memoir of his father, “Ruling Over Monarchs, Giants and Stars: Umpiring in the Negro Leagues and Beyond,” recounts the balls and strikes he called on such legends as Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Willie Mays.

Elena Yee, director of intercultural programs at Westmont, described Motley’s presentation as insightful, educa-tional, amusing and moving.

“The Negro League was created and flourished because African-American baseball players simply weren’t allowed to intermingle with white players,” she says. “Today we see how athletics continues to reshape itself by increasing opportunities for minorities. It’s important to remember that race and sports have always intertwined.”

Acclaimed producer/ director Penny Marshall has reportedly agreed to produce Motley’s Negro League docu-mentary and a screenplay about Negro League team owner and Hall of Fame inductee Effa Manley.

The athletics, kinesiology and intercultural programs offices on campus sponsored the lecture.

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