We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball / by Kadir Nelson
Title: We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
Concepts: human resources, discrimination, jobs, careers, entrepreneurs, racial inequality, social justice
Review: In the face of blatant racial discrimination and institutionalized segregation, African American baseball players in the early 1900s tried to organize professional leagues of their own. These leagues had trouble staying afloat until Andrew "Rube" Foster, a brilliant player and manager in his own right, organized the Negro Baseball League in 1920. Speaking to the power of collective action, he declared the Negro Baseball League's independence from the all-white major league baseball with his famous expression, "We are the ship; all else the sea."
This league, which started with eight teams, proved to be highly successful in providing opportunities for talented African American players to compete and excel in a game they loved. It also gave fans all over the country the chance to see exciting baseball games with players who were otherwise restricted from playing on professional teams. Although black players in the league still faced enormous challenges associated with the country's racial inequality, the league was able to draw large crowds and generate a sustainable earnings stream until the late 1940s, when major league baseball became integrated and attracted most of best black players.
With its stunning paintings and careful historical research, We Are the Ship offers readers a deeply compelling and informative account of the Negro Baseball League. Entwined in the historical account are numerous lessons in economics, particularly with the business side of operating a baseball league and the economic injustice associated with discrimination. That said, women's roles in this history are marginalized, with but a few references to the attractive women some of the players liked to watch. Despite this drawback, most baseball history buffs will value this addition to the literature.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
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