Exploring the NLBM Museum In the Historic 18th & Vine District
In this newsletter exclusive, we talk about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, "the world's only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African-American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America" according to their website.
Located in the historic 18th & Vine District, the NLBM is a baseball museum that focuses on raising awareness on a piece of baseball history that once was forgotten, the Negro Leagues that existed to provide African-Americans the chance to play competitive professional baseball before Jackie Robinson and other pioneers broke the color barrier of the professional ranks of the MLB. The NLBM was started in 1991, in a small one-room office, and later moved to the facility it is in now under the guidance of the late chairman of the organization and now Baseball Hall of Famer John "Buck" O'Neill.
What the Museum Offers Its Visitors
When visiting the museum, visitors can expect to get a full rundown of the history of the Negro Leagues, from the inception of the league, to the impact that is still felt today. As soon as you enter the museum, you are greeted by a passage from "Ecclesiasticus 2:1-2", which reads "My son, if you aspire to be a servant of the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set a straight course and keep to it, and do not be dismayed in the face of adversity". This quote is included at the very start of the gallery because in the words of the President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Bob Kendrick, that quote encapsulates the spirit of Negro League Baseball.
"These athletes loved the game of baseball so much, that they were willing to endure whatever social adversity confronted them as they traveled the highways and byways of our country, just to play baseball."
The galleries that follow demonstrate just how true that sentiment is, detailing the efforts of African-Americans to play the game, and organizations that were established even before the Negro National League was formed in 1920. Continuing through the exhibits and galleries, you will learn more about the teams that populated the Negro National League, learn more about the players on those teams, and even see memorabilia from the period, including jerseys, baseballs, bats, and other equipment. Also included in the galleries, is an exhibit dedicated to Buck O'Neill, mentioned earlier in this article. Buck O'Neill was a co-founder of the museum, and a former Negro League player himself, who spent the majority of his playing career with the Kansas City Monarchs. Included in the exhibit honoring him, is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States, which was given to him posthumously in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
Another important exhibit is dedicated to the women who played in the Negro National League, Connie Morgan, Toni Stone, and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson. These women played in the Negro League in the 50s, and the exhibit details their careers, and the impact they had on the league.
If you would like to check out the museum but can't make it in person, not to worry, as the museum offers a virtual tour, complete with videos from Bob Kendrick diving into the history of certain exhibits.
After you've checked out the NLBM, make sure to check out the rest of what the 18th & Vine district has to offer, including great restaurants, and the American Jazz Museum just next door!
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