With Houston being known for its diversity, the fact that major league baseball’s 2014 Civil Rights Game will be played in the city seems like a perfect fit.
The Astros will host the Baltimore Orioles for this special annual game at Minute Maid Park on Friday, May 30th and will include many activities headlined by the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon and the Baseball & Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion (see below for more information).
On game day, the teams will wear Negro League uniforms. The Astros will be decked out in “Houston Eagles” uniforms. The Eagles played for two years (1949-1950) and was the only team from Texas in Negro Leagues history. The Orioles will wear uniforms of the “Baltimore Elite Giants,” a team that played from 1938-1950.
There will also be a cap giveaway where the first 15,000 fans to enter MMP will receive a commemorative “Civil Rights Game” cap. After the game, stick around for a special Motown-themed fireworks show presented by Marathon Oil Corporation.
Musical performances on game day include:
- Aloe Blacc – Chart-topping singer/songwriter will perform prior to the Civil Rights Game as well as earlier in the day at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon at Hilton Americas Houston.
- Miri Ben-Ari – The Grammy Award-winning violinist and UN Goodwill Ambassador will perform her song, “Symphony of Brotherhood,” featuring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, at the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon.
- “National Anthem” – Actress, dancer and singer, Jadagrace, will perform the National Anthem prior to the Civil Rights Game.
- “America The Beautiful” – Grammy nominee and platinum recording artist Jeffrey Osborne will perform “America the Beautiful” during the 7th inning stretch.
The Baseball & Civil Rights Movement Roundtable Discussion will be held on Thursday, May 29th at 12:30 p.m. at Union Station at Minute Maid Park. A panel of prominent individuals will discuss the pivotal role baseball played in the civil rights movement and the game’s continued presence as a social institution, as well as present-day social issues affecting the country and the world. It will be moderated by Harvard Law School Professor Dr. Charles Ogletree, and will include the following panelists:
1. Ernest Green – Member of the “Little Rock Nine”
2. Linda Alvarado – Member of the Colorado Rockies Ownership Group; Chief Executive Officer of Alvarado Construction
3. Bob Kendrick – President, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
4. J.R. Richard – Houston Astros Legend
5. Harold Reynolds – MLB Network Analyst; two-time MLB All-Star
The MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon will be held on Friday, May 30th at noon at the Hilton Americas Houston. Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Seligwill headline the list of speakers at the event, which will honor best-selling author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou, who will be unable to attend due to health reasons, founder of Motown and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Berry Gordy and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown. They will each receive an MLB Beacon Award, which recognizes individuals whose lives and actions have been emblematic of the spirit of the civil rights movement, and will be recognized on the field prior to the Civil Rights Game.
Also, Robin Roberts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” will be the keynote speaker. Two Houston-based charities, the Houston Area Urban League and Change Happens!, will be the charitable beneficiaries of the MLB Beacon Awards Luncheon. Additionally, the MLB and the Astros will pay special tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
The 2014 Civil Rights Game is the eighth installation of an annual event that began in Memphis in 2007, centering on an exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians. After another exhibition game in Memphis in 2008, the Civil Rights Game moved to Cincinnati (2009-2010), then Atlanta (2011-2012) as regular season contests, and last year was hosted in Chicago by the White Sox. While much of the south was deeply affected during the civil rights movement with violence threatening the well-being of many, Houston played a vital role in achieving peaceful desegregation, making it a crucial part of the overall civil rights effort.