FULTON – Before today’s crowded ballparks, rooting for the home team and keeping score, Lanigan Elementary School fifth graders learned America’s favorite hobby of baseball had a dim past.
The history of the game was revealed during a recent videoconference between Caitlin Melvin’s classroom and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
In the midst of an academic unit on sports and American culture, the connection offered Lanigan’s fifth graders insight on breaking Civil Rights barriers.
After a virtual tour of the museum, the students listened to a representative discuss the role of Jim Crow Laws, racial segregation, the Negro Leagues (which existed from the 1920s to the 1960s) and how Jackie Robinson came to be one of the most well-known baseball players of all time.
Baseball pioneers in the 1800s, such as Bud Fowler- the first African American player to join the minor leagues – and Moses Fleetwood Walker – the first African American player to join the major leagues – endured ball time amongst white teammates before an unwritten rule was established that people of color couldn’t play.
The fifth graders sat quietly as they learned the role of both people of color and white men and women throughout the segregation period.
Melvin’s students soaked up the information, as they prepared for their upcoming research project on famous athletes who had a positive impact on society.
They were inspired by the story of Robinson, who let his baseball talent shine and went from playing in the Negro Leagues to Major Leagues.
Thanks to the videoconference, which was facilitated by Melissa Daniels, Distance Learning Coordinator at the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation, the fifth graders left with good examples of character traits the Fulton City School District prides itself on: perseverance, effort and respect.