White Sox to host Civil Rights Game
It is the seventh year of the Civil Rights Game around Major League Baseball, with the White Sox set to appear in it for the third time.
"The Civil Rights Game and its surrounding events represent an integral way for Major League Baseball to recognize the courageous people who have fought -- and continue to fight -- injustice," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "When Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier 66 years ago, it was a watershed moment not only in our sport but in American history.
"With unprecedented diversity of players of all races and ethnicities in the sport today, we are pleased to stand alongside the White Sox in homage to all those of our game and beyond who have paved new paths to equality."
At a Major League Baseball diversity summit last year, White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams jumped at the chance to play host to this year's Civil Rights Game.
"I hope that people start to begin to recognize that civil rights is not something of the past," Williams said. "That it is something that is continuous. It is something that is evolving to the degree that there are still fights for civil rights in many different avenues of our life. You can look at the pages of our politics and what's being fought for in Congress right now and the Supreme Court and you can see that there are still limitations on people's civil rights."
In its first two years (2007-08) the Civil Rights Game was an exhibition contest held at AutoZone Park in Memphis. The White Sox played the New York Mets in the 2008 game.
In 2009, the game started to become a regular part of the Major League Baseball schedule. The White Sox played at Cincinnati in that interleague game, winning 10-8.
The 2010 game was also played at Cincinnati, with the Reds beating the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3. In 2011 it was moved to Atlanta's Turner Field for the first time, with the Braves beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3. Last season, Atlanta played host again with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning by a 6-2 score.
"The majority of people in this country were probably not alive when (Martin Luther) King was killed and certainly were not alive when Jackie Robinson came into the game, just like the majority of people weren't alive for the Holocaust," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "We just can't have people forgetting what went on if we're going to get to a country where we truly have an equal opportunity for everybody."
The Civil Rights Game will only be a part of the events surrounding the effort to bring a continued focus toward inequality. On Aug. 23 there will be a roundtable discussion on baseball's involvement in the civil rights movement.
There will also be a Beacon Awards luncheon to honor a person, or perhaps group, emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement, and a youth clinic that will include current and former players.
With the city of Chicago also struggling with inner-city violence, there is a hope that a focus on civil rights can help in some way.
"The city of Chicago, it's been documented, has a little bit of a problem (with violence)," Williams said. "One of the civil rights that needs to be front and center is the education of the violence and the activities that are going on in our communities. People need to be made to feel safe and an open dialog needs to come about to discuss these types of things."