KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been three months since the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum opened its doors, but on Tuesday, the doors will finally open to offer a history lesson that people need to revisit.
“I’m excited to get some life back inside the NLB Museum, a place where the story is about keeping those alive,” Bob Kendrick said. “But when you have people in it, it breathes life into it.”
Still traffic at the museum could be limited. Many of their visitors are fans of teams visiting the Royals, who aren’t playing right now.
In addition, June 27 was to be a day where MLB celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Negro Leagues with every team wearing a commemorative patch for all games.
“It has an impact on our business, and we’re going to feel that. Alongside the fact that I’m a baseball fan, so I’m just like everybody else, hoping and praying that we’ll get this game going,” Kendrick said.
So while we wait for baseball, recent protests across the country fighting systematic racism and social injustice are at the forefront. That makes the message of how the Negro Leagues impacted America even more important to share.
“Here’s a museum that is a social justice museum. It is a museum that is a civil rights museum, but it’s seen through the lens of baseball,” Kendrick said.
“May not change your heart, may not like me, but as Jackie Robinson said, ‘I’m not really interested in whether you like me or not, I just want you to respect me,'” Kendrick said.
“If we can teach people to be tolerate through what we bring forth at the NLB Museum, I think that’s all you can ask.”
Kendrick said all Negro League players carried a mindset that they create change through their play.
“They were representing a race of people, and failure was not an option because if you fail, a race of people would fail,” Kendrick said. “They all were protesting, but they were protesting with a bat and glove in their hand.”
During this time Kendrick has had the opportunity to talk to young black baseball players who hope they can make change it, so they aren’t having the conversation for the next generation.
“To a young person, when they come to this museum, when they look at segregation, the first thing they say is, they summarize it very simply: ‘That was dumb,’” Kendrick said.
“And they’re right. It is that generation of young people who are now literally taking the ball now and trying to create the social progress that we all want.”
And on Tuesday, visitors will once again see how not just ball players, but black people overcame so much.
“It’s not the water hoses being sprayed on us. It’s not the dogs being released on us. It’s not those episodes of police brutality that have been a part of this entire quest for social justice and human rights in this country,” Kendrick said. “This is triumphant. This is us at our absolute finest light.”
The museum will have reduced hours and will require patrons to register for a time to visit.