The University of Arizona

Breaking Baseball's Color Line

Ashley Eva Gurevitz

Abstract


The unwritten color line in Major League Baseball exemplified the racial tensions and prejudices in post-Civil War America. African-American ballplayers were banned from playing with their white counterparts, forcing them to create their own leagues. The Negro Leagues may have been a successful business for the African-American community, but it illustrated the racial division in America. Breaking the color line was a long process that required the participation and efforts of various groups. The end of World War II initiated the discussion of why African-Americans were barred from playing. Despite many calling for equal rights, there remained a serious debate within the African-American community on whether integration was worth fighting for. Once Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers made integration possible in 1947, African-American players and spectators continued to face discrimination through the recommendation of a code of conduct. As a precursor to the Civil Rights Movement, the integration of Major League Baseball exemplifies African-Americans’ fight for equal rights.

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