Lost in the noise of Glen Kuiper’s slur of the tongue, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is on the path to an enormous overhaul. With interest and attendance up, the president of the Kansas City museum — Bob Kendrick — announced a plan last week for a new Negro Leagues Baseball Museum campus.
Kendrick has a goal of raising $25 million — $1 million of which has already been donated by one of the museum’s partners, Bank of America — for not only a larger facility to house the museum but to also display much more history from a league that, like so much of Black American culture, is something incredible that was birthed out of injustice.
The museum began in 1990 as an office located inside the Lincoln building in the historic 18th and Vine neighborhood of Kansas City. While certainly in a larger facility these days, the museum is still in the same neighborhood. It currently shares a building with the American Jazz Museum.
As great of a job as the current museum does showcasing the history of Negro League Baseball, according to Kendrick the facility can no longer has the space to hold onto to all that it has access to.
“Every time that I want to tell a new story, I literally have to tear something up,” Kendrick said during a news conference last Tuesday in which the plans for the new facility were unveiled. “That is not the ideal way. If we were to acquire a significant collection — and I hope that we will — we wouldn’t have proper space to really be able to showcase it. It signifies how valued this museum has become through the years.”
Whatever Bank of America, the Kansas City Royals, and the rest of MLB, and other influential people donate for this expansion will not come close to making up for the fact that human beings were denied employment because of the color of their skin. Nor will it make up for the daily injustices and indignities that Black people face on a daily basis.
However, the fact that this revered facility has the kind of support in which Kendrick can bring the Mayor of Kansas City, the district’s House Representative, and the chairman, and CEO of the Royals to that news conference is 100 percent positive. Even if three days later an announcer for the abandoned Oakland A’s called the museum the No. 1 word he can’t say on television, that shouldn’t be allowed to dampen this good thing.
A large financial investment is going into a wonderful display of Black history during a time in which so many government officials — like those in the Missouri State government — are fighting tooth and nail to suppress that history. I don’t know if the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum qualifies as Critical Race Theory, but I do know that the knowledge that can be gained from it is critical to helping make better people. And hopefully, for those who visit the campus when it’s complete, the information they receive will stick with them far better than it did for Kuiper.