Field Trip is a Home Run for MHS Students

Field Trip is a Home Run for MHS Students
Posted on 11/05/2019
Montclair High School students in Global Studies and US History 1 High Honors were invited to Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University to participate in a pilot program offered to only two other New Jersey schools. Twenty 9th and 10th graders came to the museum on Oct. 29 not only to see the exhibit Discover Greatness: An Illustrated History of Negro Leagues Baseball, but to understand the complex history and struggles of African Americans in our national pastime and connect historical movements like the Great Migration to contemporary issues of racial equity and social justice.    

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Negro Leagues in 2020, the exhibition, on loan from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, showcases African American baseball from the 1800s through the 1960s. Ninety photographs document the history of black players though the Independent Leagues, the formation of the Negro Leagues, Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in the Major Leagues and the subsequent decline of the Negro Leagues as more players moved to the Majors.  

“This is a forgotten part of history,” said Jenny Pollack, Education Director, who gave the presentation along with assistance from Montclair State students who are part of the Yogi Berra staff. “When you think about black baseball players, you automatically think about Jackie Robinson because he was the first one in the major leagues. But there were thousands before him. Their story is just as important to tell.”

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Students watched a brief slideshow and video presentation providing them with a background of segregation, Jim Crow Laws, the Great Migration and the unwritten “gentleman’s agreement,” which essentially prevented black baseball players from participating in the major leagues. They were then given a tour of the exhibit. To enhance their experience, they were given iPads that uses a program to bring select vintage black and white images in the exhibit to life in color. The program also included the chance to play PITCH! the museum’s indoor interactive baseball installation and interactive, educational activities. 

students tour museum  students tour museum

“We are always infusing power of diversity into our lessons,” said Social Studies teacher Davida Harewood who accompanied the students along with two other MHS teachers. “Whether its sports teams or settlements, we look at the economic, political and social implications and the power that race and gender play.”

students tour exhibit  studenet uses ipad   student uses ipad

students tour exhibit  post it notes  post it note

In conjunction with the Discover Greatness exhibition opening and the Negro Leagues anniversary year, the Museum has developed engaging and experiential education programming for visiting middle and high school students connecting the historical lessons of the Negro Leagues to the current national conversation about race. The Museum is also poised to launch an extensive new online curriculum this fall that addresses a range of current social issues, including race, through the historical lens of baseball.

students participate in activity  students participate in activities

“Yogi was committed to racial equity throughout his life,” said Eve Schaenen, the Museum’s Executive Director. “We see this exhibition and the innovative programming we’ve developed around it as a natural extension of our mission to sustain his values. That includes creating a safe and brave environment for visitors of all ages to explore this challenging and critically important topic.”
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