Lester Rodney, 1911-2009

Lester Rodney, the anti-racist communist sports writer died in Walnut Creek last Sunday.
In the 1930s and '40s Rodney used the communist Daily Worker newspaper to push for racial integration in baseball.
"Lester was very influential in keeping the issue alive at a time when even black newspapers concentrated more on the Negro Leagues assuming that was the way it was always going to be" said San Francisco State University history Professor Jules Tygiel author of "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy."

He is yet another example of those on the Left who have been ahead of their times in their views against discrimination.
His writings consistently underscored a parallel few were willing to recognize, especially in sports: that the growing marginalization of the Jews and other religious and social groups by the Nazis in Germany and later Europe, had a too-close-for-comfort parallel in this country's marginalization of African-Americans.

In a less violent but no less prejudiced aspect, Rodney noted that most Americans were appalled - or at least discomfited - at the thought that deference to Hitler led to our American team leaving Marty Glickman off the Jesse Owens-led relay squad at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. But few seemed disturbed that America was denying its greatest black baseball players an opportunity to reach whatever success they could achieve here.

It truly makes me wonder, after reading the history of any sorts of rights struggle, how anyone can believe being socially conservative is correct. time and time again, on issue and issue, the Right has been shown to be wrong and over time society has accepted views from the Left; women's rights, civil rights, etc.
now, dont get me wrong, i'm no fan of the communist party. former member of the Communist Party, William Herrick in his autobiographical book Jumping the Line lays out what a bunch of scum the Party is. It's worth a read for anyone who believes that working with Stalinists is ever a good idea. (it isn't.) while Rodney left the Party in 1958, we should recognize the good that many communists have done on many different political fronts. such as agitating to end racial segregation in sports.

It sure would be cool if there were more leftist sports writers out there. the NFL for example is full of pro-war pro-army propaganda. and of course there is the insane racism of having teams called the Redskins. in europe, soccer is largely dominated by fascist fans. it would be cool if there were more teams like FC St. Pauli. and it would be cool if there were more sports writers like Rodney.

There is a lot of people and organizations that history has forgotten. the civil rights struggle has turned from an amazing movement with a huge amount of participants with very diverse and complex points of views and goals, into a handful of leaders. the history we as a society remember is glossed-over, simplified and only a small fraction of what really happened. It's nice to see that Lester Rodney's contribution has not been forgotten.

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