Major League Baseball Hall of Famers like Joe Morgan, Willie Mays and Reggie Jackson might not have plaques in Cooperstown were it not for their baseball ancestors who played in the Negro Leagues between 1920 and 1960.
Now, members of the Northeastern and greater Boston communities have a chance to discover Negro League stars such as Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil and James “Cool Papa” Bell, and celebrate Negro League baseball’s place in American history.
Northeastern will host an art exhibition on the Negro Leagues at Gallery 360 starting today — the 107th anniversary of “Cool Papa” Bell’s birth — and running through July 23. The exhibit is on permanent display in the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, in Kansas City, Missouri.
The exhibition — Shades of Greatness: The Art of Negro League Baseball — includes 35 paintings, photographs, etchings, three-dimensional installations and signs created by local and national artists.
As part of the exhibition, Northeastern will collaborate with the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Foundation to enhance the understanding of social issues and awareness of the contributions of Negro League baseball players.
The collaboration will include a series of educational events and programs aimed at community organizations, public schools in the Stony Brook neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mission Hill, the Fenway and the South End, and youth baseball and softball leagues.
“We view this exhibit as an opportunity to explore art, history, sport, civil rights and social justice and create a dialogue around those topics in an educational environment,” said Donnie Perkins, dean and director of the office of institutional diversity and equity, which worked to bring the exhibit to Northeastern.
Perkins, who noted that the Boston Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball team to integrate, added, “It’s an opportunity to explore how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.”
“Baseball is America’s pastime,” said Perkins. “It’s central to Boston and to the country. The exhibit is a chance to connect with the Boston community.”