Synopses & Reviews
While Jackie Robinson is justly famous for breaking the colorline in major league baseball in 1947, other young African-American players, amongthem Hank Aaron, continued to struggle for acceptance on southern farm teams wellinto the 1960s. As Bruce Adelson writes, their presence in the South Atlantic, Carolina, and other minor leagues represented not only a quest for individualathletic achievement; simply by hitting, fielding, and signing autographs alongsidetheir white teammates, African-American ballplayers helped to end segregation in theJim Crow South.
In writing this book, Adelsoninterviewed dozens of athletes, managers, and sportswriters who witnessed thisimportant but largely unrecognized front in the ongoing civil rights movement. Whennineteen-year-old Percy Miller took the field for the Danville (Virginia) Leafs in1951, his presence on the roster was not the result of altruism: the team's whiteowners saw attendance flagging and recognized the need for more African-Americanfans. Two years later, Hank Aaron and his two black teammates for the MilwaukeeBraves' Jacksonville (Florida) farm team were regularly greeted by racial invective, even bottles and stones, on the road. And Ed Charles endured nine years ofdiscrimination in the southern minor leagues before breaking into the majors andfinally winning the World Series with the Mets in1969.
Slowly, through the vehicle of baseball, these African Americans shattered Jim Crow restrictions and met the backlash againstBrown v. Board of Education while simultaneously challenging long-held perceptionsof racial inadequacy by performing on the field. Brushing Back Jim Crow weaves theirfirsthand accounts into a narrative that spans the long season of racism in theUnited States, gripping fans of history and baseball as surely as a pennantor a homerun--race.