HOUSTON, August 28, 2020 – Members of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston (BGCGH) gathered today to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day and the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues with special programming culminating in a live virtual event on YouTube with ESPN called “Courageous Conversation,” in collaboration with Bank of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Club members, many of them teens, participated in “Courageous Conversation,” which dovetailed with the teen social and racial justice initiative launched by BGCGH this summer, “Be the Change You Want 2 See.”
The discussion, moderated by Clinton Yates of ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” featured Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Chris Archer, Pittsburgh Pirates™ player and Del Matthews, VP of Baseball Development for MLB™. There were special appearances by former and current MLB™ players who spoke to the next generation in an open dialogue about the intersection of baseball and race and the role sports can play in advocating for change and furthering the cause of social justice and racial equality in America. The discussion was particularly poignant given recent events, reinforcing why it is important for all ages to engage in candid conversation about diversity and inclusion.
The event is part of Bank of America’s recently launched Let’s Rally program, an effort in partnership with MLB™, that benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of America and complements Bank of America’s $1 billion commitment over four years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, with a particular focus on helping create opportunity for people and communities of color. Boys & Girls Clubs in eight cities from coast to coast, including Houston, were invited to join in the activities honoring Jackie Robinson and the Negro Baseball Leagues.
“We are honored to be one of the cities chosen to participate in this national event that recognizes sports icon Jackie Robinson and addresses important questions and issues surrounding racial equality in sports, as well as in America,” says Kevin Hattery, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston. “Our Club members and staff who participated in ‘Courageous Conversation’ and other related programming were truly uplifted by the positive dialogue and the promise of a more just and equitable world. Social justice is a value of ours, which is why we launched our program for teens in June, ‘Be the Change You Want 2 See.’”
“Sports have long served as a platform for racial justice, and as part of Bank of America’s commitment to advancing racial equality, economic opportunity and social justice, we’re excited to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston on Jackie Robinson Day and the 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues in professional baseball to inform our youth and provide meals and activity kits for families and Club members,” says Hong Ogle, Houston Market President, Bank of America.
“Additionally, Bank of America is a catalyst for a courageous conversation event today on breaking color barriers in partnership with ESPN’s The Undefeated and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America about the role sports play in furthering the dialogue of social justice and racial equality, which can help us build a more inclusive community in Houston, which, in light of recent events, is more important than ever.”
In addition to the ESPN event, Club members at several Boys & Girls Clubs in the Houston area were able to take a virtual field trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame where they learned about the impact of cultural diversity on baseball. They will build upon the learnings with take-home activity bags. The kits include:
- Jackie Robinson Activity Sheets: Educational materials, including a Jackie Robinson fact sheet, writing prompt and word search
- Negro Leagues History Resource Guide to learn about the significant contributions of the Negro Leagues
- Branded Popcorn Box with Baseball Card: Each student received a branded box of caramel popcorn with a Negro Leagues Baseball card inside
- Branded foam baseball keepsake
The activity bags, which were scheduled for widespread distribution at Houston area Club locations this week, will now be available to members and their families the week of Aug. 31. The delay is due to the anticipated effects of Hurricane Laura. Other Club events planned include a viewing of the classic movie “The Sandlot” and a baseball-themed lunch for members, courtesy of Bank of America.
For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston programming and its mission, please visit www.bgcgh.org.