Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

By Eric Bronson | Go to book overview

BOTTOM OF THE SIXTH
12 We're American Too:
The Negro Leagues
and the Philosophy of
Resistance

PELLOM MCDANIELS III

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I too, am America

—LANGSTON HUGHES

Since the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans have asked the question, “What does it mean to be American?” Is being American a right inherited by birth, a position appropriated by hard work and sacrifice, or a notion of freedom that is defined by the very Constitution of the United States? How does one become American? Who decides?

Hoping to answer these questions, African Americans migrated by the hundreds of thousands to northern industrial cities to escape the brutal racism of the south, and to take advantage of financial opportunities that they thought being American entitled them to in the early 1900s. By moving to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Kansas City, African Americans challenged and created their own conceptions and definitions of what it meant to be American. Most ethnic groups (immigrant, native, or displaced) have had the opportunity to assimilate and take advantage of the freedoms that achieving full status allows. The same cannot be said for a majority of African Americans who, under slavery, had directly contributed (although reluctantly) to the development, wealth, and prosperity of the coun

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