Baseball on the Radical Agenda


| April 4, 2001


Baseball on the Radical Agenda, Kelly Rusinack, SportsJones
In the 1930s and 40s, New York City's small but significant communist newspaper the Worker was one of the most vocal advocates of desegregation -- specifically on the field of baseball. The paper campaigned to end Jim Crow laws and allow African Americans to play major league baseball. On August 16, 1936, the Sunday Worker's lead story proclaimed: 'There was not much difference between the Hitler who, like the coward he is, runs away before he will shake Jesse Owens's hand and the American coward who won't give the same Negro equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunities.' Reporter Kelly Rusinack in the online sports webzine SportsJones creates a thoughtful essay that surveys the Worker's rich history of activism. Though it was a small publication, its messages resonated throughout New York City because many of the region's social progressives read it. Rusinack concludes, '...the integrity [editor] Lester Rodney and his colleagues brought to this campaign was unparalleled by their contemporaries and surpassed only by the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s.'
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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Kelly Rusinack
12/13/2010 10:49:23 AM

I would just like to make some comments here. First of all, I am not a reporter. I am a historian. The article that you mention is a summary of my MA thesis at Clemson University, 1995. It is very similar to the speech I gave at a conference in Brooklyn, from which a book was published: "Jackie Robinson: Race, Sports, and the American Dream," Dorinson and Woramund, eds. I was asked a couple of years later (or so), by a SportsJones.com editor, to get an ok from my publisher to reproduce the piece in their webzine. That is how that particular article came to be. I did not have any hand in the editing, if any was done, of the article for use in SportsJones.com, but if my memory is correct, I think it was largely kept intact. I don't believe that the article is available anymore from SportsJones.com, the last time I tried to find it it wasn't available. Thanks for the interest!