Mayor Tom Barrett proclaimed May 25, 2021 to be Negro Leagues Legacy Day in the City of Milwaukee at a press conference to unveil a new streetcar design package honoring segregation era Black baseball players.
Distinguished guests at the event included Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Tyrone Taylor, former Brewers Larry Hisle and Gorman Thomas, and former Negro Leaguers Dennis Biddle, James Beckum, MC Johnson, Warren Kirkendoll and Don Woods.
The Brewers and Associated Bank partnered with The Hop to honor the Negro Leagues 101 National Celebration, to bring awareness and education of the storied history of the Negro Leagues and their impact, and to celebrate the Milwaukee Bears, the city’s Negro National League team.
The collaboration is in support of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s (NLBM) national effort to celebrate the league’s 101st anniversary. The Milwaukee Bears wrapped streetcar will run throughout 2021.
“The enduring legacy of the Negro Leagues is one of equity and opportunity – values that continue to resonate as we strive to build a more vibrant and just community for ourselves and for future generations,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “We’re thrilled to utilize The Hop as a vehicle to bring the Negro Leagues 101 platform to our city this summer, and proud to proclaim today ‘Negro Leagues Legacy Day” as we honor the brief but impactful presence of the Negro Leagues right here in Milwaukee.”
The NLBM is 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. Based in Kansas City, the museum has welcomed more than 2 million visitors since its opening in 1997 and works to give voice to the once forgotten chapter of baseball and American history.
On February 13, 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster led eight independent Black Baseball team owners into a meeting held at the Paseo YMCA in Kаnsаs City, Missouri. Out of that meeting came the birth of the Negro National League, the first successful, organized, professional Black Baseball League that provided a playing field for African-American and Hispanic baseball players to showcase their world-class baseball abilities.
The Negro Leagues would operate for more than 40 years, becoming a catalyst for economic growth in African-American communities across the country, and helped spark social change in America.
The recently launched Negro Leagues 101 platform aims to share the story of the Negro Leagues and their impact on our nation’s history with a new generation of baseball fans this summer. Utilizing a variety of programs and events, including the creation of digital versions of two of the Museum’s most popular traveling exhibits, the NLBM will bring the story of the leagues to new audiences around the country, including here in Milwaukee.
“At the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum our mission every day is to breathe new life into the incredible history of the game and to continue to introduce new fans and new generations to these amazing athletes and people whose impact on and off the field was profound,” said Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “Through our Negro Leagues 101 initiative we’re expanding our sphere of influence beyond the museum itself, and we’re so thankful for wonderful partners like the Brewers, The Hop and Associated Bank here in Milwaukee for providing us a platform to continue sharing our story.”
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, located in Kаnsаs City’s historic 18th & Vine District, is 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.
The newly wrapped Hop streetcar depicts imagery of the Milwaukee Bears, the City’s Negro National League team that competed during the 1923 season. On the interior of the car, new displays will introduce streetcar riders to the history and legacy of the Negro Leagues, while The Hop and the Brewers plan to facilitate additional educational events throughout the summer to continue celebrating the Negro Leagues 101 platform.
Associated Bank, long-time partner of the Milwaukee Brewers, signed on to support the initiative and further its commitment to the City of Milwaukee.
“Associated Bank is honored to partner with this group of community leaders who are dedicated to remembering the Milwaukee Bears and the important role the Negro Leagues played during a very tenuous time period in our nation’s history,” said D’Juan Wilcher, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Associated Bank. “Associated continues to be committed to building a more inclusive and equitable environment both within and outside of our company.”
The Milwaukee Brewers and Brewers Community Foundation have long honored the legacy of the Milwaukee Bears through educational experiences, celebrations and financial donations. This summer the club will once again host the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum community night, sponsored by Aurora Health Care, on Saturday, July 24 vs. the Chicago White Sox, marking the 25th year the Club will do so.
“The Milwaukee Bears are an important part of the history of baseball and culture in Milwaukee,” said Brewers President – Business Operations Rick Schlesinger. “The Brewers are proud to honor the legacy of the Bears and the Negro Leagues as we recognize the critical role these institutions played in furthering diversity and inclusion in professional sports.”
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