🏀 Jayhawks Visit Negro Baseball League Museum for Juneteenth
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In recognizing the United States recently named federal holiday Juneteenth, the Kansas men’s basketball team toured the Negro League Baseball Museum and visited the historic Paseo YMCA in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, June 19.
“It was a great day to celebrate Juneteenth with the men’s basketball program,” Kansas assistant athletics director and interim chief diversity officer Paul Pierce II said. “Freedom Day has been a big deal in the African-American community for a long time so we wanted to make sure we had a good program for our men’s basketball student-athletes. We wanted to educate them, not only on the importance of Juneteenth but also some of the history that is right here in our back yard in Kansas City. We learned a lot. We had the opportunity to learn about some individuals who paved the way for young men and young women of color to participate in athletics at a high level. It was a really good day.”
On June 19, 1865, enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas, were told they were free. A century and a half later, people in cities and towns across the U.S. continue to celebrate the occasion. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. Besides Juneteenth, the day is also sometimes called “Juneteenth Independence Day”, “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.” On Thursday, June 17, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law, making Juneteenth a U.S. federal holiday.
The Jayhawks arrived at the museum in the late morning and participated in a semi-guided tour and then walked to the nearby Paseo YMCA for a photo op with the building’s famous mural of players from the Kansas City Monarchs Negro Baseball Team.
“This means a lot,” KU senior forward David McCormack said of the experience. “We learned so much from our visit to the Negro League Baseball Museum and the area in general. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. This was a celebration of liberation and it means a lot.”
During the museum tour, KU direct of basketball operations Fred Quartlebaum wore a replica jersey from his late grandfather, Jim Weedon, who played for the Harrisburg (Pa.) Giants of the Eastern Negro Baseball League in the 1950s. The Negro Baseball League began in the late 1800s and mainly existed in various forms from 1920s until the 1960s.
“Today was a celebration, an opportunity to learn about emancipation, Freedom Day, particularly for enslaved people at that time but also abolitionists who were out there to push for change and push for freedom,” Quartlebaum said. “It was a blessing that we were able to do something unique today by going to the Negro League Baseball Museum and learn about history and hear the great stories. I could not thank Bob Kendrick and the Negro League Baseball Museum staff enough for showing us outstanding hospitality today.”
With the rise of social injustice in the United States, last season, Kansas men’s basketball instigated initiatives to educate and act toward these issues. The trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is a continuation of that education coordinated by Quartlebaum.