Box 17, Folder 6, Document 89

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Box 17, Folder 6, Document 89

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hitney M. Young ·Jr"
Sh,igging N egro outfielder
Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee
Braves, one of the perrenial ter. rors of National League pitchet's, has voiced reserva tions
a bout playing in · Atlanta if
th'at's wher e his ballclub t urns
up next season.
Aa ron, w ho stroked 24 home
-.runs this year, knocked in ~5
runs and belted a r eSP,eotable
.328, is a valued asset t o his employers, who
apparently have wearied of (Milwa ukee even
il their star out,fielder has not.
ow ·he is t orn -b etween his loyalty to the
Braves and his obligations to his fam-i1y.
\He Is wontlerlng aloud about housing . conditions and other opportunities t here. 1 Wo uld
his children a ttend a s egregated · and inferior
school? Would t hey be rebuffed, s nubbed or
scarl'ed psychologically if the Braves play in ·
Georgia ?
"I just •won't step out on the field" if the
club moves there, he told a wire service reporter. "I Jcertainly don't like t he idea· of playing 111 Atlanta and I have no intention of taking my !amily· t here."
• • •
!His absence from t he Braves lineup might
eue the cares of rival National League mana gers 1but it would -be a severe blow to t he·
It would also dash the hopes o! Atlanta's
Negro leaders who have worked tirelessly to
bring professlo11al baseball and· football clubs
to Geongla's first city.
They've labored in the conviction that integr ated pro teams would dramatically demonstrate what citizens of color can accomplish
given equal opportunlties.
It is • their hope that - Aaron's big bat and
superstar pop1,1larity' will help knock J im Crow
out of town.
Atlanta's NAACP Presiden
has writ ten Aaron asking hf
mind and play._
Atlanta, he said, ls a p t'ojpessive, bulffl
city where conditions are ltfll)roving stelldl
for Negroes.
Like other Negr.o leaders, Smith knows
tully that Atlanta has its shortcomings. Early
t his year, 54 signed a declaration calling for
impr ovements that would make · direct aot-1011
protests unn ecessa ry. They heeded Rev. Mal'tin i..tither King's warning that time was "running out" for Atlanta if it 41d not make more
rap id strides in race relations;
Since then, virtually all ·public· places were
"voluntarily" opened to N eg
-either by the
presence of · pickets, press u
from the Attorney G eneral's office, · pas!ftlte of the Civil
Rig hts Act or q uiet, <but e19ctive negotiati~
by the Urban League.
(Mayor I van Allen, who pleaded eloquently
for the Act in Congress, is· regarded as one of
. the Sout h's outstanding progressives w ho has
helped crea te · a· climate in which change can
be made peace~ully.
B ut Atlanta has a long way ·to go in bettering · its schools, housing· and job opportunities
for Negroes. · · ,
F or example, one-half of the city's renlal
·un its occu pied by Negroes· are substandard and
80 percent of the adult population over 25 years
. of a ge holds no high school diploma. .
For Aaron, the choice is difficult.
To him, doffing his Mt when the "Star
Spangled Banner" is piped over the loudspeaker
opening day in the city's ne'w $18,000,000 st!l.dium may prove bitter ironr,t It he fears for
t he welfare of his family.
But such a sacriflc is ee.rifestly desired by
Negro leaders who
fu l t hat his 'big
bat will help them h
an "Open City,"
one in which opporlllm.tita e translated Into
reality "for all. ··

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