You Know Jackie Robinson, but Shouldn't We Remember Moses Fleetwood Walker, too?Historians/History
tags: racism, baseball, sports, Jackie Robinson
Michael H. Ebner is professor of American history emeritus at Lake Forest College.
Michael Beschloss, in a recent article in the New York Times, made a passing reference to Jackie Robinson. He claims that Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.
But there is a well-documented narrative that reaches back to the late nineteenth century about race and organized baseball.
It entails Moses Fleetwood Walker (1857-1924). Like Robinson he was a college man, having graduated from Oberlin.
Walker departed organized baseball in 1889, driven from the sport by the unwillingness of all-white opposing teams to take the field on which an African American would play.
For more than fifty years the New York Times has published articles recounting Walker’s significance.
Philip Benjamin, writing about Jackie Robinson in the Times during 1962, recognized as much in acknowledging the significance of Moses Fleetwood Walker.
Another connection, also well know to American historians, involving Walker and Robinson is worth recounting.
Walker’s forced departure in 1889 from organized baseball preceded the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Plessey v. Ferguson (1896) which gave federal sanction to the principle of "separate but equal."
Robinson’s breaching of the color line in 1947 preceded Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954), which reversed the federal sanction of racial segregation.
Moses Fleetwood Walker should not be regarded as a trivial footnote.
MLB.com, the website of Major League Baseball, heralds his significance: " . . . first African American to play in the Major Leagues. That's a fact.
comments powered by Disqus
- Brexit will ultimately destabilise Europe, historians fear
- The Justinianic Plague's Devastating Impact Was Likely Exaggerated
- 'Human, vulnerable and perfect': New Rosa Parks exhibit shines light on civil rights legend
- How Charlottesville’s Echoes Forced New Zealand to Confront Its History
- Mary Thompson Featured in Article on George Washington's Dog Breeding
- China Releases History Professor, But Travel Concerns Persist
- Gordon Wood Interviewed on the New York Times’ 1619 Project
- Books by Garret Martin, Balazs Martonffy, Ronald Suny, and Kelly McFarland Featured in Article on NATO at 50
- The secret history of women in America, told through their belongings
- Irish Archive Recreates Documents Lost in in 1922 fire