As the pioneer and historical face of desegregation in sports, Jackie Robinson experienced taunts and death threats at every point of his Major League career as the first black player admitted to the league.

His bravery and persistence in the name of equal rights have been well-documented and honored not just in baseball history, but in the larger context of the struggle to end the disparate treatment of black citizens endemic to American institutions.

But Robinson’s success, in no slight to his considerable achievement, came as the result of the road paved by many less-celebrated predecessors, who, through their careers in the Negro Leagues, brought a resolve and speed to the game unmatched by their Major League counterparts.

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If you see only one Oscar-nominated film this year, make it "13th."

Directed by Ava DuVernay, the stirring documentary explores America's long history of overpolicing and imprisoning black and brown people since the passing of the 13th Amendment. DuVernay sat down with scholars, educators, elected leaders, authors, and activists to tell this troubling but necessary story.

DuVernay (left) interviews scholar and activist Angela Davis for "13th." Image via Netflix.

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When the attack on Pearl Harbor began, Doris "Dorie" Miller was working laundry duty on the USS West Virginia.

He'd enlisted in the Navy at age 19 to explore life outside of Waco, Texas, and to make some extra money for his family. But the Navy was segregated at the time, so Miller, an African-American, and other sailors of color like him weren't allowed to serve in combat positions. Instead, they worked as cooks, stewards, cabin boys, and mess attendants. They received no weapons training and were prohibited from firing guns.

As the first torpedoes fell, Dorie Miller had an impossible choice: follow the rules or help defend the ship?

For Miller, the choice was obvious.

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