Saturday, February 04, 2006

Seldom-told stories and histories highlight new Negro Leagues exhibit in Virginia

| Richmond.comThis January was Richmond's 10th-warmest in city history, according to the National Weather Service. Players featured in the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Central Virginia's exhibit on the Negro Leagues would call that baseball weather.

And rest assured, there will be no rain delays at the museum's most recent exhibit, which opens today in correlation with Black History Month. It will remain open through October.

The display, entitled "Barnstorming: The Negro Leagues, 1920-1960", features signed baseballs, bats and photos from popular major league players who played in the Negro Leagues such as Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron, as well as Negro League stars that never made the move, such as Buck O'Neil and Monte Irvin, the last surviving Negro League player named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

'Barnstorming' was a term used to describe the scurrying of townspeople when one of 16 Negro League teams would come to town. The locals would rush to throw together a pick-up team to face the visiting team.

Kernels of history like this are scattered throughout the exhibit.

"Black history is not just important in February; it should be taught and learned throughout the year," said Yvonne Carter Hopkins, the curator and main contributor to the showcase.

Her daughter is a seventh-grade English teacher and they have worked with the school district to plan history sessions where local Negro League players would come in and share stories from their playing days.

[full story]

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