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Aaron Heralds MLB's Opportunities For Minorities

 ATLANTA -- Hank Aaron and Jimmie Lee Solomon have spent countless hours and developed numerous theories in their search to determine why it has been difficult to persuade more African-American children to dream of playing in the Major Leagues.

While continuing their fight to provide inner-city youth with a chance to appreciate the game that has been so good to them, Aaron and Solomon want to expose more African-Americans to the employment opportunities provided by baseball beyond those who have the special ability to play the game at its highest levels.

"There are so many other ways to make a very good living in the game of baseball," said Solomon, who serves as Major League Baseball's executive vice president of baseball operations. "It can provide you so many successes in society if you just avail yourself to it."Braves to host Civil Rights Game

This was the prevailing message conveyed during a symposium staged Tuesday evening at Morehouse College's School of Medicine for students from Atlanta's historically black colleges. MLB will coordinate many more similar events over the coming weeks leading up to this year's Civil Rights Game, which will be pit the Phillies against the Braves at Turner Field on May 15.

"In spite of the lack of minorities in baseball, they can participate, not only in baseball, but they can participate in the front office," Aaron said. "I just want them to be part of this great game."

 

 

 

 

Aaron and Solomon addressed the students via a panel discussion that also included Andrew Young, a civil rights activist and formerly Atlanta's mayor and the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

At the heart of all of the activities surrounding the Civil Rights Game is baseball's rich history with African-Americans and other minorities.

Society as a whole was affected when Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier with his Major League debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. This led many other institutions, like the U.S. military, to open their doors to African Americans.

Robinson's rise to the Majors was paved by many Negro Leaguers before him. Aaron, who debuted with the Milwaukee Braves in 1954, counted himself among those who dealt with inequalities with the hope that he was paving the way for other African-Americans to travel a smoother path in the baseball world.

"I just would like to see more communication between professional baseball and African-Americans because we paid the price," Aaron said. "We paid our dues."

As they continue to attempt to revive the game in this country's urban areas, Aaron and Solomon also are committed to reminding young African-Americans that they can thrive in Major League Baseball as a player, umpire, broadcaster, trainer, front-office executive or any other position that interests them.

"No one can tell you that you can't do something. I've had many people tell me that you won't be able to play baseball," Aaron told the students. "They said: 'You're never going to hit the way you hit.' I just decided I wasn't going to listen to it."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.


STORY TAGS: MLB , Hank Aaron , Black News, African American News, Minority News, Civil Rights News, Discrimination, Racism, Racial Equality, Bias, Equality, Afro American News



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