Breaking the Color Line

Letters to Commissioner Landis

In December 1943, actor Paul Robeson and several Black newspaper publishers met with Major League Baseball’s team owners — who had barred African American players since 1884 — to persuade them to integrate. Fans wrote Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to express support for integration, but baseball's color line remained in place for nearly four more years. In 2020, the Baseball Writers' Association of America voted to remove Landis's name from its Most Valuable Player Award, citing his "failure to integrate the game during his tenure."

 
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Telegram from College Station, Texas, post office employees to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, December 2, 1943
Loan from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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Telegram from College Station, Texas, post office employees to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, December 2, 1943
Loan from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
 
 
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Postal card to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, December 1943
Loan from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
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Postal card to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, December 1943
Loan from National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
 
illustration of Jackie Robinson
32¢ Jackie Robinson (Legends of Baseball Issue) approved stamp art by Joe Saffold, 2000
Scott Catalogue USA 3408a
Loan from United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection

After integrating International League baseball by playing for Canada's Montreal Royals in 1946, Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (1919–1972) broke Major League Baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947 when he appeared in the Brooklyn Dodgers' starting lineup versus the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field.

Baseball: America’s Home Run