Derrick Jones, after conducting extensive research for 20 years on African-American athletes during the time of the Civil Rights Movement, took the opportunity to share his hobby with Mabel Elementary School in Zionville last week.
Susan King, Appalachian State University Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance's education and outreach coordinator, received a call from Jones, a 1979 ASU graduate, telling her that he wanted to “give back to the university that gave him so much” by presenting his interactive program displaying his research, “The History of the Negro Leagues Baseball Era and Players.”
Jones facilitated a number of presentations with ASU and schools and communities across North Carolina and Virginia last week to highlight the history of the Negro Leagues.
The presentation on Thursday morning, April 16, at Mabel was the last presentation of his visit.
Mabel counseling intern Carla Stevens decided that it would be a wonderful idea to have Jones speak to the students. “It allows them the opportunity to learn some history of the Negro Leagues, while also having fun,” she said.
The interactive presentation included five questions about the Negro Leagues: who, what, when, where and why.
Children were invited to participate by wearing reproductions of famous players' jerseys and reading short biographies of stars such as Jackie Robinson, “Cool Papa” Bell, John-Henry “Pop” Lloyd and Josh Gibson.
Jones shared with the Chancellor's Commission on Diversity his hopes that the legacies and images of these unfamiliar Negro League baseball players will be recognized and respected for years to come.
“Having the opportunity to research and share information about Negro Leagues baseball at Appalachian is like spiritual healing and living in high cotton at the same time. To give back to the school and community that gave me my start is a bottom of the ninth, walk off, grand slam, lights out experience for me,” he said.
Jones' visits in the area were sponsored by ASU's Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance, with support from Belk Library and Information Center, McFarland & Company Inc. and the Dan'l Boone Inn.