‘The League’ Celebrates Negro League Baseball and the Chicago Defender

The new docu-film, “The League,” celebrates the dynamic journey of Negro League Baseball’s triumphs and challenges through the first half of the twentieth century. 

Executive-produced by Academy Award winner Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard, this film serves as a reminder that African Americans will forever be the blueprint and original influencers in American society. 

You could feel the immense pride that Black folks had when you would go to a Negro league game because it was inherently ours.

Chicago Defender’s Impact on Negro League Baseball

The importance of the Negro leagues could not be ignored, and one Black publication was at the forefront of spreading the word.  

One cultural critic stated, “There were several Black newspapers, and The Chicago Defender was the major Black newspaper many Black people read in the South. The Chicago Defender was a big promoter of people moving to the North to find opportunities.

The Defender covered many important cultural moments during this time, including the Negro leagues, specifically highlighting owners that served as managers and pitchers like Andrew “Rube” Foster of the Chicago American Giants. 

The Defender was often credited for producing and publishing newsworthy content that served one purpose: to inform and not back down from their role to defend and protect the Black voice. 

One cannot deny that The Chicago Defender is a national treasure. 

As a leading culture carrier and contributor to groundbreaking Black news, it is baffling when it is not given the same respect as others in the Black media realm. As one cultural critic stated, “…Black newspapers knew how to cover their audience best.” 

The Chicago Defender has continued to catalyze relatable, relevant and reflective content for Black readers near and far.

“Everyone read The Chicago Defender and The Pittsburgh Courier. They were the country’s two leading Black media newspapers, said Maya Angelou in the docu-film. 

The Rise of the Black Dollar & The Birth of Black Business 

It is no secret we have always been resourceful people. We have sought ways to use our innovation as a bridge to currency. We live on the corner of “making a way out of no way.”  

In the docu-film, Pollard describes how the verdict of Plessy vs. Ferguson played a role in the rise of Black American independence.

One cultural critic said, “Due to Plessy vs. Ferguson, Black people were coming together to develop self-sustaining communities. We birthed Black businesses, schools and baseball.”

This was the civil rights movement. We were resilient in believing but also in doing. Ownership and entrepreneurship were the way of gaining capital and respect.

The Importance of Negro League Baseball

Our history must be preserved and protected. We are the gatekeepers and docu-films like “The League” keep us connected to our culture.

May we forever speak the names and legacies of Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Satchel Paige and Moses “Fleetwood” Walker. 

Their individual and collective contributions to the sport of baseball should not only be celebrated but recognized as monumental and groundbreaking.

The players mentioned above, and many that go unnamed, dared to fight. They fought back against oppression and created opportunities that would essentially earn them the title of what we now call “influencers.” 

These impactful change agents went against the norm for a game that sought to exclude them. 

This docu-film compels all to go against the norm for what we believe in and create what we wish existed. 

There is space for us; if this film didn’t inspire you to do anything else, make the space!

And to our ancestors in baseball, I say, “Thank you.”

Be sure to visit AMC Theaters on July 7th to check out the amazing docu-film,” The League.” Celebrate independence by keeping our stories at the forefront of culture.


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