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Moses Fleetwood Walker; Baseball’s True First

Moses Fleetwood Walker (1856–1924) took the field against the Louisville Eclipse on May 1, 1884, making him the first African American to play in a professional baseball game. According to baseball historians, it was the worst game of Walker’s career, as he went hitless in four at-bats and committed four errors. Still, the native of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and star athlete at Oberlin College went on to have a brief (September 1884) yet successful career with the Blue Stockings.

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Moses Fleetwood Walker, circa 1884. From the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Moses Fleetwood Walker, circa 1884. From the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

By Tamara Shiloh

Some 63 years before Jackie Robinson is credited as the first African American in Major League Baseball (April 15, 1947), Moses Fleetwood Walker (1856–1924) became the true first to break the sport’s color barrier.

The American Association (today, the American League) was formed at the opening of the 1884 baseball season. Their goal was to be in competition with the National League. The Toledo Blue Stockings were added as one of the league’s participating franchises. The starting catcher would be Walker.

Walker took the field against the Louisville Eclipse on May 1, 1884, making him the first African American to play in a professional baseball game. According to baseball historians, it was the worst game of Walker’s career, as he went hitless in four at-bats and committed four errors.

Still, the native of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and star athlete at Oberlin College went on to have a brief (September 1884) yet successful career with the Blue Stockings.

Walker was the last African American to participate on the major league level before Robinson.

Prior to the Blue Stockings, Walker played for semi-professional and minor league baseball clubs. But how Walker first came to the game is unknown. According to David W. Zang, Walker’s biographer, baseball was popular among children in Steubenville where he was raised. While in Oberlin’s preparatory program, Walker became the prep team’s catcher and leadoff hitter.

Oberlin men played baseball as early as 1865, including a “jet-black” first baseman whose presence suggested Walker was not the college’s first Black baseball player.

After baseball, Walker’s personal life seemed overrun with friction.

In 1891, he was involved in an altercation outside a saloon with a group of four white men exchanging racial insults. One of them hit Walker in the head with a stone. Walker then fatally stabbed his attacker with a pocketknife.

He surrendered to the police and was charged with second-degree murder but was later found not guilty. After, Walker returned to Steubenville where he had worked for the postal service.

Walker’s wife, Arbella, died in 1895. Three years later he was found guilty of mail robbery and sentenced to one year in prison, which he served in the Miami County and Jefferson County jails in Troy, Ohio.

After his release, he jointly owned the Union Hotel in Steubenville with his brother Weldy and managed the Opera House, a movie theater in nearby Cadiz, Ohio. Walker soon gained respect as a businessman in the community. Walker later patented inventions that improved film reels when nickelodeons became popularized. He was a staunch advocate of Black nationalism and jointly edited a newspaper, The Equator, with Weldy. He authored “Our Home Colony” to explore ideas about emigrating back to Africa.

Walker died of lobar pneumonia in 1924. He was 67.

Learn more about the two Black athletes who helped integrate Major League Baseball and the challenges they faced in “Jackie Robinson and Moses Fleetwood Walker: The Lives and Careers of the Players Who Integrated Major League Baseball” by the Charles Rivers Editors.

Tamara Shiloh

Tamara Shiloh


About Tamara Shiloh





Tamara Shiloh has published the first two books in her historical fiction chapter book series, Just Imagine…What If There Were No Black People in the World is about African American inventors, scientists and other notable Black people in history. The two books are Jaxon’s Magical Adventure with Black Inventors and Scientists and Jaxon and Kevin’s Black History Trip Downtown. Tamara Shiloh has also written a book a picture book for Scholastic, Cameron Teaches Black History, that will be available in June, 2022.

Tamara Shiloh’s other writing experiences include: writing the Black History column for the Post Newspaper in the Bay area, Creator and Instruction of the black History Class for Educators a professional development class for teachers and her non-profit offers a free Black History literacy/STEM/Podcast class for kids 3d – 8th grade which also includes the Let’s Go Learn Reading and Essence and tutorial program.   She is also the owner of the Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts, in Richmond, California,

Previously in her early life she was the /Editor-in-Chief of Desert Diamonds Magazine, highlighting the accomplishments of minority women in Nevada; assisting with the creation, design and writing of a Los Angeles-based, herbal magazine entitled Herbal Essence; editorial contribution to Homes of Color; Editor-in-Chief of Black Insight Magazine, the first digital, interactive magazine for African Americans; profile creations for sports figures on the now defunct PublicFigure.com; newsletters for various businesses and organizations; and her own Las Vegas community newsletter, Tween Time News, a monthly publication highlighting music entertainment in the various venues of Las Vegas.

She is a member of:

  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

  • Richmond Chamber of Commerce

  • Point Richmond Business Association

  • National Association of Professional Women (NAPW)

  • Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA)

  • California Writers Club-Berkeley & Marin

  • Richmond CA Kiwanis

  • Richmond CA Rotary

  • Bay Area Girls Club


Tamara Shiloh, a native of Northern California, has two adult children, one grandson and four great-grand sons. She resides in Point Richmond, CA with her husband, Ernest.

www.multiculturalbookstore.com

About Tamara Shiloh

Tamara Shiloh has published the first two books in her historical fiction chapter book series, Just Imagine…What If There Were No Black People in the World is about African American inventors, scientists and other notable Black people in history. The two books are Jaxon’s Magical Adventure with Black Inventors and Scientists and Jaxon and Kevin’s Black History Trip Downtown. Tamara Shiloh has also written a book a picture book for Scholastic, Cameron Teaches Black History, that will be available in June, 2022. Tamara Shiloh’s other writing experiences include: writing the Black History column for the Post Newspaper in the Bay area, Creator and Instruction of the black History Class for Educators a professional development class for teachers and her non-profit offers a free Black History literacy/STEM/Podcast class for kids 3d – 8th grade which also includes the Let’s Go Learn Reading and Essence and tutorial program.   She is also the owner of the Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts, in Richmond, California, Previously in her early life she was the /Editor-in-Chief of Desert Diamonds Magazine, highlighting the accomplishments of minority women in Nevada; assisting with the creation, design and writing of a Los Angeles-based, herbal magazine entitled Herbal Essence; editorial contribution to Homes of Color; Editor-in-Chief of Black Insight Magazine, the first digital, interactive magazine for African Americans; profile creations for sports figures on the now defunct PublicFigure.com; newsletters for various businesses and organizations; and her own Las Vegas community newsletter, Tween Time News, a monthly publication highlighting music entertainment in the various venues of Las Vegas. She is a member of:
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
  • Richmond Chamber of Commerce
  • Point Richmond Business Association
  • National Association of Professional Women (NAPW)
  • Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA)
  • California Writers Club-Berkeley & Marin
  • Richmond CA Kiwanis
  • Richmond CA Rotary
  • Bay Area Girls Club
Tamara Shiloh, a native of Northern California, has two adult children, one grandson and four great-grand sons. She resides in Point Richmond, CA with her husband, Ernest. www.multiculturalbookstore.com

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Statement on 80th Anniversary of D-Day

Representative Barbara Lee (CA-12) released the following statement on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. “80 years ago, one of the largest invasions in historical warfare—and the start to the end of World War II—took place. Today, we look back to the over 2,400 American lives lost on the beaches of Normandy, remember their stories, and honor their immense bravery.

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“D-Day will forever live on in history. May we honor their lives and all who have served by investing in veterans’ health care, economic security, and opportunity when they return home.”
“D-Day will forever live on in history. May we honor their lives and all who have served by investing in veterans’ health care, economic security, and opportunity when they return home.”

Washington, D.C.  – Representative Barbara Lee (CA-12) released the following statement on the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“80 years ago, one of the largest invasions in historical warfare—and the start to the end of World War II—took place. Today, we look back to the over 2,400 American lives lost on the beaches of Normandy, remember their stories, and honor their immense bravery.

“My father, Lt. Col. Garvin A. Tutt, was a Buffalo soldier in the 92nd infantry, a racially segregated and Black-only division that was instrumental in the success of Normandy and the Allied advance. Today and every day, I think of him and all of the brave servicemembers who sacrificed for our country, even when our country didn’t love them back.

“D-Day will forever live on in history. May we honor their lives and all who have served by investing in veterans’ health care, economic security, and opportunity when they return home.”

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Activism

U.S. Rep. Kamlager-Dove Leads Discussion on Improving Black Student Learning, Test Scores

Kamlager-Dove, who represents a district that covers parts of Los Angeles County, hopes that ideas shared at the event can be incorporated into models that can impact other regions across California, where Black students continue to fall behind their peers of other races and ethnicities.

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Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) moderates a panel including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education during Roundtable on Equity in Education for Los Angeles Unified School District (R to L) beside Kamlager-Dove Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer, Los Angeles USD; Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Keith Linton, Founder, Boys to Gentlemen, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and LAUSD student Jonathan McGee. Photo by Lila Brown (CBM).
Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) moderates a panel including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education during Roundtable on Equity in Education for Los Angeles Unified School District (R to L) beside Kamlager-Dove Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer, Los Angeles USD; Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Keith Linton, Founder, Boys to Gentlemen, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Distinguished Professor and Dean, University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and LAUSD student Jonathan McGee. Photo by Lila Brown (CBM).

By Lila Brown, California Black Media

On April 8, U.S. Congressmember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA-37) moderated a roundtable focused on Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) strategies to improve Black student performance in classrooms.

Kamlager-Dove, who represents a district that covers parts of Los Angeles County, hopes that ideas shared at the event can be incorporated into models that can impact other regions across California, where Black students continue to fall behind their peers of other races and ethnicities.

Discussions at the event centered on LAUSD’s Black Student Achievement Plan (BSAP) and other educational initiatives aimed at enhancing learning and boosting test scores.

“The Black Student Achievement Plan is unique in that it takes a community-centered approach to uplifting Black students,” said Kamlager-Dove during the event held at John Muir Middle School in Los Angeles.

“We must implement culturally responsive education in the classroom to challenge our students academically while giving them a sense of purpose,” she continued.

In 2023, nearly 70% of Black children in California fell below a passing mark on the state standardized English Language Arts exam, and only about 20% of those students were performing at grade level based on their scores on the math assessment test.

A variety of public education experts joined Kamlager on the panel, including Dr. Kortne Edogun-Ticey, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Education; Dr. Robert Whitman, Educational Transformation Officer at LAUSD; Dr. Pedro Noguera, Professor and Dean at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education; and Keith Linton, founder of the non-profit Boys to Gentlemen. 

Jonathan McGee, a student who sits on the BSAP Student Advisory Council, also spoke during the panel.

The BSAP was approved by the LAUSD Board of Education in February of the 2020-21 school year. Funds have been earmarked to address the longstanding disparities in educational outcomes between Black students and their non-Black peers. Dating back to the landmark case, Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional, positive outcomes for Black students continue to lag behind district and national averages for their non-Black counterparts.

Edogun-Ticey spoke about broader investments the federal government is making in education that directly impact Black students through The White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.

‘This administration did not shy away from the idea that we need resources for support which means billions of dollars in investment for HBCUs,” she explained.

BSAP strategies include partnering with Black families and local community; supporting the implementation of culturally and linguistically responsive and anti-racist practices; offering wrap-around support structures; and highlighting experiences that uplift the contributions of the Black community as motivation and models to develop positive Black student identity. Additionally, the BSAP provides increased staffing to support Black students’ academic and social-emotional needs.

“School districts across the country must push back against attacks on marginalized students by implementing programs like the BSAP, which should serve as a model for future initiatives,” Kamlager said.

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