Black athletes affect change with peaceful protests

Black athletes have endured an incredibly difficult path to the professional sports stage. That hasn’t stopped many of the top performers from using their platform to fight for justice, whether it be speaking out against unjust occupations of foreign land, or standing up for their brothers and sisters here at home. Pictured left, Jackie Robinson forced his way into the all-white MLB by outplaying the competition and standing tall in the face of racism. Top right, Colin Kaepernick is known for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police killings of unarmed Black men and women. Kaepernick holds the NFL record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 181 in the 2013 NFC Championship. Bottom right, not only could heavyweight superstar Muhammad Ali float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, he could take a stance on justice when the microphone was centered in front of him.

Editor’s Note: This story has been provided as a source for education and further research. The Daily News staff has decided to publish this to celebrate Black History Month and recognize the cultural significance and impact of Black history. Look forward to more coverage of Black Americans’ innumerable contributions to this nation throughout February.

Black athletes populate the current all-star rosters in major professional sports, but it wasn’t always that way. In a not-so-distant past, Black athletes were vilified by the very sports world that celebrates them today. From football analysts historically questioning the intelligence of Black quarterbacks, to student sections shouting monkey noises toward players in Jamestown, North Dakota, Black athletes facing unjust criticisms and jeers in the arena still occurs today. The 2023 Super Bowl was the first of which to feature two Black quarterbacks, as the highest level of sports continues to make strides in diversity and equity.

Black athletes affect change with peaceful protests

Josh Gibson is recognized by many as baseball’s all-time home run king. Estimates put Gibson north of 800 career home runs between the Negro League and independent baseball. According to author Alexander Boeck, Gibson was the second highest paid player in Black baseball behind Satchel Paige. Gibson is known as one of the most powerful hitters to play the game. He spent most of his Negro League career with the Homestead Grays, where his primary position was catcher, but would also play both third base and left field. While in the Negro League, he hit a total of 113 home runs and had 361 RBIs.

Black athletes affect change with peaceful protests

The water tower in Gibson’s hometown of Bueno Vista, Ga., reads 'Home of Josh Gibson.'

Sports Reporter

Robert has spent over a decade reporting Twin Towns Area athletics, coaching baseball and officiating sporting events. From MMA to golf, he covers the entire sports spectrum through stories, photos and videos. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2021 by the North Dakota Newspaper Association.