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Hudson Valley Press

December 19th, 2012

Baseball exhibit highlights African Americans

The Pittsburgh Crawfords gather for a team photo in 1935. This photo and more will be on display at the Adriance Memorial Library as part of Pride & Passion: The African American Baseball Experience. Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library.

POUGHKEEPSIE - Pride & Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, a nationally touring exhibition which chronicles the remarkable history of baseball’s Negro Leagues and the challenges and successes of African-American baseball players, opens January 2, 2013 in Adriance Memorial Library’s Wojtecki Rotunda Gallery. An accompanying program series features lectures that relate the history of pre-integration baseball and the days leading to Jackie Robinson’s efforts to break the color barrier in America’s national pastime.

Poughkeepsie Public Library District is one of only 25 libraries in the United States selected to host the exhibit. The large display is based on original documents, photos and artifacts that tell the compelling story of African-American baseball leagues from the late 19th century to 1950. It also looks at the career of Jackie Robinson, who broke the 20th century color barrier in baseball and led the way to integrated teams in the 1950s. The public is invited to view the exhibit during regular library hours through February 24th.

The Pride and Passion event series organized by the library district brings scholars, historians, an actor, a professional player, and a collector for presentations at The Auditorium, 105 Market Street in Poughkeepsie. All events are free of charge. The kick-off on Thursday, January 3rd at 6:30 p.m., is entitled If It Ain’t Got That Swing: Black Baseball and Music in the Jim Crow Era. Dr. Lawrence Hogan, Union County College, New Jersey, and Dr. Robert Cvornyek, Rhode Island College, explore the rich intersection of Black Baseball and Black Music. Former professional player James Robinson, 1952-1958, will also share first-hand experiences of the African-American baseball experience.

Other scheduled events (all at 2:30 p.m.) include:

• An Afternoon with Jackie Robinson impersonator Gregory Gibson Kenney on Sunday, January 13th,

• Bob Mayer speaking on Black Barnstorming in the Hudson Valley on Sunday, January 20th,

• Author and researcher Larry Lester, Sunday, January 27th, speaking on the History of Negro League Baseball,

• Marist professor Jim Overmyer, Sunday, February 10th, on Negro League team owner Effa Manley,

• And concluding on Sunday, February 24th, with Major League Historian John Thorn’s overview of Segregation, Integration, and Beyond: The Baseball Experience.

The library district has also supplied related lesson plans to local elementary-high school classrooms. The plans are mapped to Common Core standards and lead students to explore life in the Negro Leagues, the integration of baseball, and its impact on the Civil Rights movement.

Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, a traveling exhibition for libraries, was organized by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY, and the American Library Association Public Programs Office, Chicago, IL. The exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: great ideas brought to life, and is based on a permanent exhibit on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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