The Dream at 50
Sports bring people together in a way nothing else can, as evidenced by one of baseball’s proudest moments when Jackie Robinson made his debut in 1947, breaking the color barrier.
However, many people may not realize that this momentous occasion occurred seven years before the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision and 16 years before Martin Luther King Jr.’s Great March on Washington, which took place on August 28, 1963.
Fifty years ago today, King delivered his most seminal speech, proclaiming his dream; a message that resonated through the National Mall to the quarter million people in attendance. And while the process of realizing that dream endures, great strides have been made in the last half century. This is especially true in sports, where players of all races and ethnicities stand as teammates and competitors, side-by-side.
Sports can often serve as a catalyst for social change, and baseball is proud to have such a great leader as Robinson as a role model for equality in our game. In his spirit the Washington Nationals are dedicated to continuing to make a positive social impact here in D.C. As part of this commitment, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation invests money and resources to our local community, and will open the doors to the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Ward 7 this fall.
Major League Baseball also carries on the ideals of the Civil Rights Movement through programs such as Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. Likewise, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s mandate to encourage minority hiring for the top positions in the game was the first of its kind in professional sports in 1999, predating the NFL’s Rooney Rule by several years.
So as we pay tribute today to Dr. King and his dream of equality, let us also celebrate the role baseball has played toward equal civil rights in America.