Banned from professional baseball in the late 19th century, African-American players were forced to go on the road to make money playing the game they loved. Enduring poor fields and long journeys between games, teams brought their unique and entertaining brand of baseball to towns big and small. Even when they had trouble securing food and lodging because of the color of their skin, these players persevered, opening the door for the ultimate return of African-American athletes to big-league baseball.
Free at last! Hopeful African Americans began the long journey to build their lives from scratch as U.S. law declared all slaves free in 1865. But many whites fought bitterly against change. Signs above water fountains, restrooms, and other public places clearly separated WHITES from COLOREDS, while the Ku Klux Klan terrorized the night. Leaders like Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up to the ugly reality of racism in America. Laws and hearts slowly changed to make the American Dream a possibility for all of its citizens. Today, the United States celebrates the rich history, music, and art of the black community. But with holdovers of hatred, pride, and prejudice, has the country achieved true equality?
The Underground Railroad was not a transportation system with metal tracks and whistling trains that zipped along a grid of tracks through tunnels below the ground. Instead, this system was an organized network of people whoin utmost secrecyhelped others escape the bonds of slavery. The routes to freedom were filled with danger, but the risks were worth it. Climb aboard to travel back in time and find out how this system of passengers, conductors, and stationmasters saved thousands of lives and helped change the nation.
The nightmare for enslaved Africans began on the Middle Passagethe journey across the ocean to America. Chained together by their hands and feet, the people were crammed into a ships dark belly, sometimes for weeks. When they arrived, they were sold at auction like so much cattle. Then, for generations, they faced bondage at the hands of cruel masters, forced to work sunup to sundown planting and harvesting crops, cleaning houses, or performing other tasks that would boost the white mans profits. Refused basic civil rights and often torn from their families, the slaves looked for ways to find freedom and better their lives. Flight was riskyeven with the help of the Underground Railroad. For many, it was the only option.
Most of the people who worked on the Underground Railroad were not well-known, but many stood out and became famous. The workers came from different races, occupations, and all walks of life. Some spread the word about the injustice of slavery through writing or lectures. Some volunteered behind the scenes, sewing clothes and donating goods to help the runaways. Others risked their lives daily, leading fugitives through swamps and forests and past slave catchers to freedom. Those who were caught were fined, jailed, or even executed. But they did not give up until freedom was won for all.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, a young woman from Pakistan, was denied the privilege of attending school, shot by terrorists, and forced to leave her country. Her near assassination convinced Malala that God had kept her alive for a reason. She would continue to fight for children's rights to education. With 66 million children worldwide not attending school, Malala travels the world, inspiring politicians and other people to help them. "We should not lose hope," she said. "One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world."