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Throughout American history, blacks and whites have always been separated in regards to pretty much every aspect of life. For instance, people use black and white in regards to differently treated classes of people. One of the things many people don’t realize about segregation is that even common things like the ‘American pastime’ of baseball could be corrupted by this evil mechanism of division and separation of American citizens. In the late 1800s, black American men began playing on baseball teams for small functions such as company events, college teams, military teams, etc. This began the struggle for black people wanting to advance in society and be equal to their fellow man. By 1920 a fully organized baseball league was formed creating the first ever largely organized sporting organization created by black people, for black people. Negro League Baseball had effects such as the eventual integration of black players with white players and establishment of African Americans in the U.S economy, and was important for the civil rights movement because of its creation of unity between African Americans spread across the nation leading to the development of strong ties needed between communities to spark the civil rights movement in America.
The Negro National League is noted as being created officially in 1920, although it had been around in illegitimate forms for many years prior to its official creation. The NNL was created when Major League Baseball (MLB) created a policy that called for the rejection of any application belonging to any black or colored person. Of course this angered the black or colored people who wanted to partake in the most popular sport in America. This led them to branch off and create a league of their own. After its creation, the NNL had a relatively short life span only lasting another 20-odd years until Jackie Robinson’s appearance in 1947 as the first black male to play in the major, white, league shut down any need for a negro league. After the integration of whites and blacks in the MLB, the NNL eventually just dissolved into nothingness.
The NNL was also very relevant in the establishment of African Americans in the United States economy. The NNL was a major, major organization in its time. With the organization boasting 24 total teams across the nation, the league had widespread reach throughout the U.S. This is important because it was able to bring job opportunities to lower socio-economic and racially discriminated against people that otherwise might not have been able to get a job any other way. The jobs these less fortunate people would gain through this new acquisition of economic territory would come in the form of a janitor at the local NNL stadium, an owner of a hot dog stand in a stadium, a secretary for a game organizer, manager of a team, manager of the NNL stadium, etc. There would be so many jobs and opportunity that had Jackie Robinson not integrated blacks into white baseball the NNL might have grown very rapidly and spread across the entire nation in every state. The NNL also provided opportunities to get widespread recognition for poor people or people who would otherwise not have gotten recognition due to their skin color in these places as well. Many black folk joined the teams since it was an all-black league. A lot of black folk also went to a lot of NNL baseball games. This allowed people who were normally shunned from spotlight on national teams due to their skin color to experience the American Dream in their own way. The NNL was very helpful in creating economic structure in black communities in the 1920s-40s because it was able to produce many jobs and opportunities to get poor black people out of the rut they are in and potentially even help them gain more respect from white people if they can show that they earned their own money and could provide, a classic white male ideology.
The NNL was a huge contributor to the development of the civil rights movement due to its contributions to the acceptance of blacks in white societies by means of sport. Jackie Robinson’s appearance sparked the integration of black and white sport culture into one by showing that black can be as good as white, at least when it comes to sports. It was a victory for the black community. Not a victory that should have had to have been had but it was still a great leap in black history. This victory of being allowed to play with the privileged folk after being oppressed as a people for so long set a precedent showing that common ground could be found in white and black communities and ways of life. This is important because with this precedent, further civil rights activism had a reference point to look back and say, “Remember when the black players and the white players got along and played baseball as one people?” When one has a point to look back to as a reference of something that worked well, or had a good outcome, they tend to be able to get their point across better. The NNL contributed greatly to the development of the civil rights movement because they were able to set a precedent showing that whites and blacks could get along, sparking huge support for civil rights across the nation.
Overall, without the NNL there would have been less unification between black folk across the United States during its time because there wouldn’t be something that all people would be able to relate to. Since these people were able to unify to all watch this one sport it made it easier to get people to gather and agree on common ideas, especially ones pertaining to individual and civil rights. The NNL also gave a lot of economic stability to black communities so without it there would potentially have been a much higher unemployment rate and the living conditions even today might have had some negative impact of that lack of economic stability. The NNL is very, very important to the development of the civil rights movement.
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