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Kansas City's Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is now a stop on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Two bronze statues of baseball players and an umpire stand on a fake dirt infield that resembles home plate inside the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Behind them is an American flag and a black and white photo of a baseball team.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is one of 14 new locations announced Tuesday that are being added to the United States Civil Rights Trail.

The trail, which follows key moments and locations in the Civil Rights movement across the United States, also stops in Independence and St. Louis on its way to Kansas City.

The national Civil Rights Trail now runs through Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Kansas City will be the third stop in Missouri for the trail, which follows key moments and locations in the Civil Rights movement across the United States.

Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, says the recognition speaks to the sport’s contributions to social justice.

“We certainly make the case that Jackie's (Robinson) breaking of the color barrier wasn't just a part of the Civil Rights Movement, that it was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement,” he says.

Kendrick adds that the honor is particularly prescient because the museum is preparing to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

“It gives us an opportunity again, to reflect on what that meant,” Kendrick says.

A man wearing a plaid sports jacket stands in front of a brick entryway. Above the entryway is a sign that reads "NLBM, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick said, "We felt all along that our story is as much about civil rights, social justice, as it is about baseball."

Missouri’s other spots on the trail include the Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, and the Old Courthouse in St. Louis where the Dredd Scott case was first heard in 1847.

“So the Midwest plays a great role in civil rights,” Kendrick said. “And so it is kind of fitting that this museum would now be added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.”

The Civil Rights Trail currently reaches as far west as Topeka, Kansas, at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The museum sits inside the former Monroe Elementary, a segregated school involved in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Nick Murray, an educator at the National Historic Site, explains that the national trail is part of a recent trend of civil rights tourism. Although it began in Alabama, the trail has since expanded outward.

“This will hopefully help broaden the recognition that the struggle for equal rights isn’t just limited to a handful of states in the south,” Murray says. “It’s really a national discussion.”

The Negro Leagues Museum is one of 14 attractions added to the trail this year, including three sites in Tennessee, nine in Louisiana and one in Virginia.

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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