BASN Classic Blackbox: November 5 1945

Updated: September 30, 2008

A BASN Classic BlackBox Originally Published: April 27, 2008 NOVEMBER 5 1945 HARLEM MEETING WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN Ravens FORMED 1945 HARLEM

Many things happened

in 1945 they do every

year notably in 1945

World War II ended

up in Harlem things

happened like music

groups formed one for

example is The Ravens

their debut album was

Birds Of A Feather

Which brings us to today’s Black Box which is not about music or the Ravens. But most definitely about Harlem.

Probably best called a Harlem Fantasy that took place on November 5, 1945. Still it does lead to an interesting WHAT IF exploration.

Little remembered.

Indeed guaranteed no one reading today’s Box ever heard of the meeting of The Negro Leagues that took place that November day up in Harlem. It should be remembered if not celebrated as maybe the pivotal moment in the entire history of the Negro Leagues. Because November 5, 1945 highlighted both the promise and the tragedy of the Negro Leagues wrapped up in a single meeting little noted or remembered.

Putting this meeting in perspective it followed the initial signing of Jackie Robinson by the Brooklyn Dodgers to a minor league contract. Rescuing him or stealing him from the Kansas City Monarchs as you prefer. What we fail to appreciate today is that from the moment the Dodgers first showed interest in Robinson not only was he a center of attention in Black and White America. Even more Robinson at once began to symbolically characterize the powerful change in Baseball then truly America’s pastime, about to take place.

Thought lost in the mists of history the Negro League team owners were in the middle of that whirlwind. From their perspective they had as much to lose as anyone. As much to lose as most African Americans hailed the integration of Baseball. Those issues are intimately connected. Because as Black players moved into the Majors so would Black fans shift their allegiance to the Majors. An inevitable march.

Making it tougher on the Negro Leagues it was never just about Baseball. The entire landscape of Integration or the lack of Integration in American society was taking place as theatre for all African Americans on the Baseball Diamond.

So as Jackie Robinson‘s expected entry into the Majors would inevitably, it was correctly assumed lead to many other Black players becoming Major Leaguers – Black fans would flock in ever greater numbers to watch the best Black players and watch Integration take place before their eyes. For all of Them.

The Negro League team owners knew they would be DOOMED unless they could agree on a plan to save their League. Or so they wanted to believe at the time. That there was a chance of surviving and prospering in an age steamrollering toward at least superficial Integration. This is what led to the “historic” Harlem meeting November 5, 1945.

The owners gathered ironically at the urging of a White MLB owner Clark Griffith of the Washington Senators. There was a group of White owners and others led notably by Griffith who wanted to preserve the Negro Leagues for two inter-related reasons.

1) as an alternative to truly Integrating Baseball, and 2) because Negro League teams were a very good source of income for many White owners like Griffith who rented their stadiums to Negro League teams who played in their cities.

At this November meeting and other meetings precipitated by it the single most significant step the Negro League owners took which was to adopt EXACTLY word for word by laws, contracts, the reserve clause, etc., etc.

of the Majors attempting to become a MIRROR image of the Major Leagues. It was vainglory on their part to mimic the White League in the hope of being embraced call it adopted by Major League Baseball.

The reality was MLB, its Commissioner at the time so called HAPPY Chandler and most of the White owners if anything were more horrified by the idea of making the NEGRO Leagues a partner to them or even a minor league for Baseball as the Negro Leagues proposed, than they were fearful of individual Black players being hired.

It was a Fool’s Journey

For the Negro Leagues to believe that Major League Baseball would embrace them to keep Black players playing Black baseball. A ‘perfect’ example of circular logic proving worthless. Yes it was LOGICAL if you believe their was intelligent or sincere interest in the position of Major League Baseball. BUT THESE GUYS WERE PRACTICALLY ALL BIG LEAGUE (SIC) RACISTS. They wanted NOTHING to do with African Americans. Therefore a true partnership with the NEGRO Leagues was preposterous.

But again in fairness to the African American owners of Negro League Baseball. They could ONLY grasp at straws. They knew they were DOOMED no matter what so why not swing for the fences and hope for a miracle.

Let’s compare their situation

to Native Americans

It did not matter in the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s what the American Indians did nor how much they adopted the life styles or religions of the Pale Faces nor how low they bowed they were DOOMED because Other Americans wanted all that land and the “best” thing to do was take it all and completely.

It called the PowerFULL vs the PowerLESS

the game is over before it begins

it’s a shut OUT every time

Back to Baseball.

YES if we lived on a different planet with very different basic rules you can hypothesize a very good scenario in which the Negro Leagues would have remained WHOLE and even PROSPERED by become “integrated” (interesting use of the word here) into the Major League Baseball universe. Keeping their identity and their audience as players Black and White moved among both and creating a super level of Baseball in America.

Do we have to tell you

WHY that was even

more FAR more


than Robinson

might ever be

do we really

God help u

if we do


Harlem’s Ravens

1945 album is titled ?

see album cover above