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Program on the Negro Leagues baseball era part of diversity celebration at Appalachian

By Susan King, Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance

BOONE—Derrick C. Jones, a 1979 graduate of Appalachian State University, will return April 12-18 for a residency featuring lectures and presentations on the Negro Leagues baseball era for audiences on campus, at public schools and in the community.

View larger imageDerrick C. JonesView larger imagePhoto of Max Manning who played for the Newark Eagles in Negro Leagues baseball, courtesy of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, St. Louis.

Jones, semi-retired after 33 years as a public educator, has always been interested in the Negro Leagues. He has conducted extensive research about that era of American history (1920-60) for the last 20 years, though he is quick to say his passion is “just a hobby.”

The Negro Leagues were an important institution in the fight for civil rights for African-American athletes. However, that era is seldom taught in public schools, leaving this important part of the nation’s history largely unknown.

As an extension of his research, Jones began to gather memorabilia from that time period. His collection has grown into an extensive assortment of Negro Leagues jerseys, baseball mitts, vintage trading cards, autographs, photo collections, figurines, and numerous other Negro Leagues collectibles and artifacts. Many pieces are authentic to the period; some are replicas.

Over time, Jones also developed an interactive program titled “A History of the Negro Leagues Baseball Era and Players,” which he has shared with schools and communities across North Carolina and Virginia. Children are invited to participate in the presentation by wearing reproductions of size-appropriate jerseys of famous players and reading short biographies of stars like Jackie Robinson, “Cool Papa” Bell, John-Henry “Pop” Lloyd and Josh Gibson.

School principals, teachers and students have given Jones’ presentation outstanding reviews. One principal wrote, “This was … a great experience, not just for my students, but for my staff as well. I could hear, see and smell the ball field. All that was missing was the peanuts.”

Jones’ “Traveling Museum of Artifacts from the Negro Leagues Era” will be displayed in Plemmons Student Union’s Multicultural Center from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., April 13-17. Campus and community members are invited to view the exhibit.

Hosts for Jones’ presentations and lectures include the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church, Appalachian’s Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Diversity Celebration, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Mabel School, the Department of Sociology and Watauga County Library.

For a complete schedule of the Derrick C. Jones Residency, visit http://diversity.appstate.edu/events/jones. For additional information, call 828-262-2144 or email Susan King at kingsh@appstate.edu.

The Derrick C. Jones Residency is sponsored by Appalachian’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance, with support from Belk Library and Information Commons, McFarland & Company Inc. publishers and Dan’l Boone Inn.

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