You can’t consider the success of the Civil Rights Movement without giving credit to baseball. Jackie Robinson being accepted into the major leagues prepared our country for the reality of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s DREAM.
In 2007, Major League Baseball created the Civil Rights Game to honor the history of civil rights and the role that baseball played. To date, the games have been played in Memphis, Cincinnati, and Atlanta.
Last year, our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors had the honor of throwing out the first pitch prior to the 5th Annual Civil Rights Game. Talk about emotional. I sat adjacent to the dugout looking at Ambassadors Mendez Elder and Wesley Clement talking to Ambassador Andrew Young and Reverend Joseph Lowery. Ironically, our Ambassadors name was inspired by Ambassador Young. So there they are walking to the pitchers mound together. Ambassador Young gave Mendez and baseball to throw to Jason Heyward and Reverend Lowery gave a ball to Wesley to throw to Ryan Howard. Jason and Ryan returned the ball to them. To me, it was symbolic of passing the torch.
Needless to say that both Ambassador Young and Reverend Lowery have set the bar really high with their public service. L.E.A.D. is positioning our Ambassadors each day to serve others and represent the promising future of Atlanta. L.E.A.D.’s mission is to provide inner city middle and high school age Atlanta males with access to higher education and civic engagement through baseball. We are so serious about achieving our mission, that we measure our impact. Check our stats!
This year, L.E.A.D. has the honor of providing a clinic and summit experience for over 300 youth during the Braves Youth Clinic and Summit. Our Ambassadors provide clinics throughout the year so this will be another great opportunity for them to share their knowledge with younger students. Special thanks to the Braves for entrusting us with this opportunity. There will be hundreds of boys and girls throughout metro Atlanta that will receive amazing instruction from our Ambassadors as well as former/current MLB players.
After the clinic, the students will meet Zach Klein (WSB-TV/Channel 2) who will serve as the events moderator. Our guest speakers include Jasha Balcom, Tim Sims and Leron Rogers.
Contrary to popular belief, African-American youth love to play baseball. The numbers of African-American competing at the NCAA (less than 6%) and MLB (less than 9%) level is so low because the cost to play is so high. Every problem creates an opportunity thus the need for L.E.A.D.
I’m pleased that L.E.A.D. is able to continue to serve the Atlanta community with year round programming. So after the clinic, inner city Atlanta youth will plug right into L.E.A.D. Fall Legacy League program.
Atlanta is full of legends and I’m proud that L.E.A.D. is a part of the city’s rich legacy. So much has been done in the name of baseball and so much more will be done. Join us as we continue to Transform Communities Through Baseball.