The SWAC Celebrates Black History Month
During the month of February, the Southwestern Athletic Conference will celebrate Black History Month by spotlighting the many accomplishments of African Americans throughout history in and outside of athletics.
We will step into a time machine of sorts visiting different times in African American history and pay tribute to those who have made it possible for modern generations to flourish.
THIS WEEK IN BLACK HISTORY...(From www.dayinblackhistory.com)
Feb. 3, 1886 - The Southern League of Colored Base Ballists became the first Negro league. It was not until 1920 that an organized African-American league (the Negro National League) survived a full season. The second league formed in 1923 (Eastern Colored League), and the following year the Kansas City Monarchs defeated the Philadelphia Hilldales in the first "colored" World Series. Many great teams played in the Negro Leagues, as did many great players. Some students of baseball consider James "Cool Papa" Bell the smoothest and fleetest outfielder ever to play and that Josh Gibson, who averaged.362 over his 16-year career, was the best offensive threats of the times. Of course, no list could be complete without the legendary pitcher Leroy "Satchel" Paige, the greatest pitcher of the Negro Leagues.
The elevation of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 not only opened the doors for other African-American players, it also signaled the end of the Negro Leagues. Perhaps the biggest misfortune for Negro League players is that segregation made it impossible for their greatest athletes to play against the greatest in the major leagues.
Feb. 3, 1903 - Jack Johnson wins the "Negro Heavyweight Title". Johnson remains one of the more colorful figures in boxing history. He became the first Black world heavyweight champion on December 26, 1908, defeating Tommy Burns on the fourteenth round. He would lose only five of ninety seven professional fights.
Feb. 3, 1956 - Autherine Lucy becomes the first Black student at the University of Alabama. After she graduated from Miles College in 1952, she enrolled at the University as a graduate student in library science.
Feb. 4, 1794 - The First African Methodist Episcopal Church is founded in Phildelphia, Pennsylvania.
Feb. 4, 1903 - Rosa Parks, initiator of the Montgomery Bus Boycott was born. Parks became part of civil rights history when she was arrested because she refused to give up her bus seat for a white man. Public buses were segregated then, reserving seats in the front and middle of the vehicles only for whites.
Feb. 4, 2006 - Warren Moon becomes first Black quarterback to be inducted into the National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame. Moon's career spanned 22 years, two leagues and five teams. He played for the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos and the National Football League's Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs. He is currently a broadcaster for the Seahawks.
Feb. 5, 1934 - Still considered to be the true home run king in Major League Baseball, Hank Aaron was born. Nicknamed "Hammer," or "Hammerin' Hank," Aaron played 23 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1954 through 1976. Aaron spent 21 seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves in the National League (NL) before playing for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American League (AL) for the final two years of his career. Aaron is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Aaron's consistency helped him to establish a number of important hitting records. He holds the MLB records for the most career runs batted in (RBI) (2,297), the most career extra base hits (1,477), and the most career total bases (6,856). Aaron is also in the top five for career hits with 3,771 (third) and runs with 2,174, which is tied for fourth with Babe Ruth. He is one of only four players to have at least seventeen seasons with 150 or more hits. He also is in second place in home runs (755) and at-bats (12,364), and in third place in games played (3,298). At the time of his retirement, Aaron held most of the game's key career power hitting records outright.
Feb. 5, 1994 - Avowed White supremacist Byron de la Beckwith is convicted of Medger Evers' murder, more than thirty years after he was shot in the back from ambush.
Feb. 6, 1993 - Arthur Ashe, first Black male to win Wimbledon, passes away. Ashe was an accomplished tennis professional who broke down many of the color barriers in the sport. He became the first Black person named to the American Davis Cup team; became the first Black athelete to win the USLTA junior indoor title as well as the first Black junior on the American Junior Davis Cup team. In 1968, he became the first Black male to win a major tennis title, winning the men's singles in the US Lawn Tennis Association Open. He won both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles and earned the world's No. 1 ranking in both 1968 and 1975. He became the first Black male inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.
In 1993, Ashe died from complications due to AIDS, which he apparently contracted from a blood transfusion during open heart surgery. He was posthusmously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.Feb. 9, 1971 - Leroy "Satchel" Paige was elected to the MLB Baseball Hall of Fame. Initially barred from the major leagues because he was African American, Paige played in the Negro Leagues. Paige's pitching took the Kansas City Monarchs to five Negro American League pennants. He also showcased his skills by barnstorming across the country.