Negro Leagues "Beisbol" Exhibit: Opening Day

A traveling exhibit celebrating Hispanic/Latino and African American baseball players is coming to Morgantown. “Negro Leagues Beisbol: African American Baseball and Hispanic Culture 1860-1960” will make its way from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) in Kansas City, Missouri to West Virginia University's own Erickson Alumni Center, where it will remain open for public viewing from September 18-October 28.

Spanning one hundred years of Hispanic/Latino and African American professional baseball in the United States, the exhibit is part of an educational initiative created by Dr. Robert Waterson, a professor in the College of Education and Human Services (CEHS) and director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education (CDCE). In addition to being available for public viewing, the exhibit will also serve as a classroom to over 900 middle- and high-school students from across the state of West Virginia who are scheduled to attend special “student sessions” over the next two months. These sessions will be led by both graduate and undergraduate members of Dr. Waterson’s secondary social studies methods courses as part of their teacher training experience.

“For students attending the exhibit’s student sessions, the Negro Leagues Beisbol program provides a unique opportunity to explore a lesser-known aspect of our nation’s history and the Civil Rights Era through the lens of America’s pastime,” said Erica Lilly, a student in Waterson’s course. “And for teacher candidates, like myself, the program serves as an opportunity to really take on the role of teacher, put our training into action, and gain valuable experience in the field.” Former students of Waterson can attest that this experience pays off, as virtually all have found successful careers in the field of education, and many have received local, state, and national recognition for their teaching excellence.

To assist teachers in preparing students for their visits, the CDCE has provided various supplementary educational materials designed to complement the exhibit experience. The CDCE will also host a free teachers’ workshop aimed at providing participating teachers with the skills and strategies necessary to engage their students in meaningful lessons about the Negro Baseball Leagues and, more broadly, the struggle for equality and social justice in the contemporary Civil Rights Era. An art literacy competition has also been initiated by the CDCE, in which all students have been invited to participate.

The exhibit’s “Opening Day” is scheduled for September 18 from 2-5:30pm, and will feature several guest speakers, including Dr. Raymond Doswell (Vice President of Curatorial Services at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum), Joel Gray (Community Outreach Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates), and Pedro Sierra (a former Negro Leagues baseball player for the Indianapolis Clowns and Detroit Stars). Student finalists in the art literacy competition will also be in attendance with their artwork, which will remain on display throughout the exhibit’s stay in Morgantown. The CDCE will also host a Negro Leagues Baseball Cinematic Film Festival at the Erickson Alumni Center on September 19 from 10am-6pm.

“There really is something for everyone,” said Lilly, “Young and old, students and teachers, history buffs, sports enthusiasts, social justice crusaders, and everyone in between! Not only does this program integrate a variety of subjects and disciplines, it also explores and promotes more universal themes – like liberty, justice, equality, and democracy – to which we all can relate.”

“Negro Leagues Beisbol: African American Baseball and Hispanic Culture 1860-1960” is free and open to the public from Sept. 18-Oct. 28. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the exhibit will be open from 8:15-4:45pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the exhibit will be open from 1:30-7pm.

For more information about the exhibit or the Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education (CDCE), please contact——Robert A. Waterson Robert.waterson@mail.wvu.edu.