Secondly, it looks to how the Black Press and the Communist Press worked diligently for over a decade prior to Jackie Robinson's breaking of the color barrier, breaking down the myth of Branch Rickey suddenly embracing anti-racism after decades of silence. Lamb argues that the relentless journalism of the Black Press in writers like Wendell Smith, which always kept the issue alive for black readers, coupled with white radicals of the Daily Worker who challenged the white press, slowly pushed the mainstream culture so that eventually liberal politicians and opinion makers embraced the cause of ending segregation in the most popular sport of the United States. Chris Lamb's Conspiracy of Silence: Sportswriters and the Long Campaign to Desegregate Baseball describes the consistent refusal of white sportswriters to report the decades-long efforts to integrate professional baseball in the United States. The campaign to desegregate baseball was one of the most important civil rights stories of the 1930s and 1940s. Lamb does not fail to explain that blacks had already played in the earlier major leagues, with few incidents, until the reactionary social climate of the 1890s made club owners decide to force them out. It fits well with Lester Rodney's biography of Press Box Red and Rob Ruck's Raceball in both understanding how the labor dynamics of desegregation played out and how the history was totally changed to fit into the anti-radical individualistic narrative of Branch Rickey single handedly ending segregation in baseball. Meanwhile, white writers kept claiming that integration would cause race riots, was not wanted by black players, or would be unable to sustain itself because there were no black players good enough for the majors.
When queried in the spring of 1945, he admitted being interested in black baseball and claimed he had spoken twice to La Guardia about black players. Similar measures came up before the New York City Council as well as in the cities of Boston and Chicago. As Lamb notes, there had been black players in professional baseball in the late 19th century, but that soon ended. Meanwhile, during this time period, the mainstream white newspaper writers almost totally ignored both the color barrier with very little commentary on why no black players were in the Major Leagues, to the point where the silence has to be understood as totally intention whether by conservative and often racist writers, to editors who would not let even writers who wanted to explore the issue. He wrote a preface to the novel, but never published it. Although the paragraphs are sometimes thick with detail, the author has documented a story of immense cultural importance.
Meanwhile, Rickey was working out his plan to hire Jackie Robinson. Rickey, who had been contemplating hiring blacks either for a new black league or a black team, had been scouting individual players since 1943. But most of white America knew nothing about this story because mainstream newspapers said little about the color line and less about the efforts to end it. Biography I am a professor of journalism at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where I teach sports journalism classes to undergraduate and graduate students. Drawing on hundreds of newspaper articles and interviews with journalists, Chris Lamb reveals how differently black and white newspapers, and black and white America, viewed racial equality.
But most of white America knew nothing about this story because mainstream newspapers said little about the color line and less about the efforts to end it. This book shows how Rickey's move, critical as it may well have been, came after more than a decade of work by black and left-leaning journalists to desegregate the game. A conspiracy of silence, or culture of silence, describes the behavior of a group of people of some size, as large as an entire national group or profession or as small as a group of colleagues, that by unspoken consensus does not mention, discuss, or acknowledge a given subject. The phrase would also be applicable to the under. As a descriptor, conspiracy of silence implies dishonesty, sometimes cowardice, sometimes privileging loyalty to one social group over another. The clear, bold writing makes the book a joy to read.
The stars of the decades-long effort to pressure white club owners to affirm American democracy by permitting black players into their organization were men like Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, Fay Young of the Chicago Defender, and Sam Lacy of the Washington Tribune. Look up in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. Robinson Becomes the Chosen One Part 6 12. During the campaign by black writers they did just about everything they could in order to make the white club owners wake up to their duty as Americans to open the top levels of the American National Game to all its citizens—by which they meant black citizens as well as white. Then Vito Marcantonio introduced a resolution in the United States House of Representatives to authorize the Commerce Department to investigate racial discrimination in Major League Baseball.
In fact, tidbits were often leaked to white Communist writers, whose Daily Worker readership far outstripped its circulation as a mainstay of workplace factory reading before the Red Scare destroyed the influence of the Communists. Before becoming a college professor, I worked for newspapers and magazines. And government officials in city and state governments, especially in New York City, kept bringing up noncompliance with the Ives-Quinn Act, which could affect the three major-league teams in New York. The campaign to desegregate baseball was one of the most important civil rights stories of the 1930s and 1940s. The efforts of the alternative presses to end baseball's color line, chronicled for the first time in Conspiracy of Silence, constitute one of baseball's—and the civil rights movement's—great untold stories. Consequently, black stars like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and countless others labored in obscurity virtually their entire careers.
Conspiracy Of Silence: Sportswriters And The Long Campaign To Desegregate Baseball. Moreover, the white writers considered themselves the pals of the players, socialized with them, and protected their secrets, including membership in the Ku Klux Klan. It says something about the level of understanding of democracy that Americans had attained in the 1930s and 1940s when it took black reporters and left-leaning whites to show them where they should stand on the matter of integration. Coverage of their effort by white sportswriters was spotty at best and weak at most. La Guardia planned to devote a radio broadcast to the issue. My articles have appeared in the following academic journals: Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism History, and the Journal of American History. Drawing on hundreds of newspaper articles and interviews with journalists, Chris Lamb reveals how differently black and white newspapers, and black and white America, viewed racial equality.
This campaign was led not by white liberals but by black newspapermen, and it was complemented by the leftists who published The Daily Worker. Rickey told La Guardia he would have an announcement to make and asked the Mayor to postpone his speech. He gave a real tryout to two players that spring, but it came to nothing. It's as good a book on the subject as we've ever come across. This pushed the very conservative, very anti-communist Major League Baseball owners to eventually crack and begin signing black ballplayers beginning with Robinson.
Lamb's book is invaluable to understanding how both the silence of the white mainstream media was deafening, and how long the campaign of the sometimes allies and sometimes rival Black Press and white communist press was before it succeeded in making it possible for Branch Rickey to sign Jackie Robinson. The Color Line Is Drawn 3. For most of the campaign, white Americans remained ignorant about the sustained effort of blacks to permit their star players into Organized Baseball. But most of white America knew nothing about this story because mainstream newspapers said little about the color line and less about the efforts to end it. Archived from on January 31, 2015.