Baseball: The Negro Leagues

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11659

Have you heard of the Negro Leagues? That title would be considered racially insensitive today, but it was a badge of honor during the fight for equality. Learn more and make baseball cards!


People and Their Environment, United States, United States

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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As a kid, you are used to being blocked from doing certain things, like driving a car or riding on a certain roller coaster. Usually you are blocked for safety reasons.

  • What would you say, though, if you were turned away from your favorite restaurant or told you couldn't play your favorite sport because of your religion or because your skin was a certain color?

Baseball is often called America's pastime.

The sport has a legendary history, and some of America's legendary twentieth-century figures were baseball players like Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth.

The sport has a wholesome image — a gentleman's sport that doesn't involve tackling anyone or knocking anyone over, and somehow reminds many Americans of an idealized past. Yet the history of the sport also has a not-so-wholesome chapter: the Negro Leagues.

Segregation, the practice of keeping the races separated, prevented Black individuals and some other ethnic groups from participating in professional baseball. Some Black players formed their own teams and competed in their own leagues from the 1880s through the early 1960s.

Read more about how the Negro Leagues were formed, what they accomplished, and how they finally ended.

As you read Negro League History 101 - Part 1 of 2 and Part 2 of 2, fill in key information and ideas from each section in the interactive below or on Segregated Baseball found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

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Reflect on the following questions.

  • How did views of race impact baseball in America?
  • What historical factors or events might have led to these impacts?
  • What finally brought about the end of segregation of baseball and of American society?

You explored some of the basics about the Negro Leagues in American baseball. In the Got It? section, take a look at some of the sport's greats who played in these leagues and the heroes who led the sport to desegregation.

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