Santa Clarita – Wednesday, October 25, 2006, The City of Santa Clarita Human Relations Forum will continue its Season of Diversity month long program with a historical lecture about the Negro Baseball League presented by “Sweet Lou” Lou Johnson, outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to the 1950’s, African Americans were barred from playing in the Major League. “The Negro Leagues” were formed during the time organized baseball was segregated and became the training ground for Hall of Famers like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and many other baseball greats. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Valencia High School Theater located at 27801 North Dickason Drive in Valencia. The program is free of charge. Johnson who has had a prestigious career in baseball is an integral part of the Dodger’s community relations team and a member of the Dodgers Speaker’s Bureau and speaks locally and nationally.
According to Spence Leafdale, City of Santa Clarita Human Relations Forum member and lecture organizer, Johnson will address the chronological timeline tracing notable events in both African-American cultural history and black baseball. The baseball color line was the unwritten policy which excluded African American baseball
players from organized baseball in the United States
. Baseball's color barrier cracked on April 18, 1946 when Jackie Robinson, was signed to the Dodgers organization. Robinson's success opened the floodgates for a steady stream of black players into organized baseball. Robinson was shortly joined in Brooklyn by Negro League stars Roy Campanella, Joe Black and Don Newcombe, and Larry Doby.
“Baseball is the American pastime,” said Leafdale. “Historically is has many lessons to offer us in terms of cultural sensitivity and good sportsmanship. This particular program will be of interest to not only history students but to baseball enthusiasts as well. As we know, there are brutal forms of discrimination in our society and historically the Negro Baseball League and the breaking of the baseball color line helped desegregate and help change cultural mindsets and misperceptions.”
For more information about the October 25th speaking engagement, A Season of Diversity, or the Human Relations Forum, please contact Cynthia Llerenas, Community Services Supervisor for the City at (661) 255-4918.
About the Santa Clarita Human Relations Forum
In May 1994, members of the community addressed the Santa Clarita City Council and requested the formation of a task force to promote understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity in City. Soon after, the Santa Clarita Valley Human Relations Forum was formed with the mission to encourage, assist, and empower the Santa Clarita community to eliminate all forms of discrimination and to promote understanding and appreciation of human differences. The Forum works to promote positive human relations and acceptance of all people in every aspect of community life. Its goal is to make Santa Clarita a place where all people can live and work peacefully with a better understanding of each other and the value of diversity.