The article by Henry Fetter explains the efforts in overcoming segregation that had persistent in Major League baseball. Henry explains that the Communist Party and the Daily Worker, which was the party’s newspaper, do not merit all the accreditation given to them regarding their contributions towards ending discrimination against Negroes in the Major League baseball. Instead, he argues that the breakthrough came as a result of Branch Rickey’s own initiatives as well as Jackie Robinson’s outstanding courage.
Henry’s assertion is to show that the integration of American Whites and Blacks in the Major League baseball was not influenced by pressure from or activities of the Communist Party, but rather from social and political forces which had more clout than itself. “One would look in vain, however, for any such tribute to the Party or the Worker in other early accounts of the chain of events leading up to the integration of Major League Baseball.”
This paper will highlight some of Henrys examples of other powerful forces other than The Party together with its paper The Worker in breaking of the race barriers in baseball.
Henry debates that the major participants within this debate are Branch Rickey, Dodger President and General Manager, and Jackie Robinson, the talented baseball player, and should be accredited for the breakthrough, and not the Communist Party. Henry posits that that these accreditations are out of the Communist Party’s self praise and not out real campaigns against segregation in organized baseball.
In his defense to his argument, Henry further debates that even Robison, who The Party claims to have fought for to break into the Major League, did not recognize their efforts anywhere for having played any role in the breakthrough, and at one time distanced himself from the comments made by Paul Robeson, a communist, saying he did not speak on behalf of Black Americans.
He argues that the Communist Party and its newspaper, the Daily Worker did not adopt realistic initiatives in fighting discrimination against Blacks. Instead, they presented a radical perspective and unrealistic approaches which could not help end segregation.
Rickey had taken a more realistic approach that understood the challenges that would be faced in the initial stages of integration between Black and White players. He came up with a meaningful approach for the integration process, while on the other hand, the Communist Party only made criticisms to make them synonymous with the public.
Henry explains that other newspapers such as “The Times” contributed more towards breaking the color bar as compared to what the Daily Worker did. According to him, while most newspapers which had wider coverage focused on Rickey-Robinson challenges, the Daily Worker denied any such challenges and pretended that the situation was ideal.
This is because, as Henry’s asserts, The Worker avoided mention of any other force (it only wanted to credit itself) that heavily influenced the breaking of the racial barrier lines. Their main aim was to convince the public that their ideals were not failing in order to gain the public trust. This means that the Daily Worker did not present the real troubles that Rickey and Robinson met while trying to overcome those challenges, but instead, denied.
Henry also believes that the Communist Party’s activities and self-proclaimed efforts were just part of the party’s public relations to gain political clout because their newspaper changed its course when Robinson did not identify with Robeson’s communist view. On the contrary, the newspaper began to present views supposed to support Yankees over Dodgers despite the former having refused to include Negroes in the team for more than a decade.
The strength of the article lies in its ability to present the grounds for the Communist Party and the Daily Worker’s claims on its roles in integration, and then provide criticism to their role by comparing it to that of other organizations including other newspapers. It carefully presents the activities and initiatives adopted by the Communist Party and their degree of impacts to changing the system and the attitudes that were held by many people during that time.
The article also presents the weaknesses of the party as well as its inconsistency to prove that the Communist Party did not create any significant influence, and that it only organized its activities to sell the policies and ideologies of the communist society. The article’s strength also lies on its concrete proof of the writer’s perspective. The article incorporates knowledge from various texts, reports and speeches of other people to prove his facts.
Its weakness lies in its inability to clearly present its purpose. The article does not state the reason as to why it was written and it actually needed to accomplish. However, from Henry’s assertions, the article main purpose was to portray the party and its newspaper the worker as two selfish forces who didn’t want to acknowledge efforts by other s in breaking racial barriers in the sport.
To support this assertion, Henry presents other credible example of forces whose tireless efforts bore fruit. In addition, the article does not mention other political parties which played major roles in overcoming segregation in the Major League baseball, yet it concludes by suggesting that other political forces played greater role than the Communist Party.
The article is really convincing. This is because in one of the writer’s defense to his thesis statement he proves that the Communist Party was not consistent in its pro-claimed fight against discrimination. This inconsistency means that the party did not have real intention for fighting segregation other than to spread its communist ideologies.
This is because much of the stories surrounding the integration of all races in the sport revolved around the combination of Rickey-Robinson’s audacity and inventiveness. Furthermore, other credible writers such as Arthur Mann only mention The Party briefly
The important question not addressed in this article is whether other Black players were integrated into baseball Major League during the period of 1947 to the early 1950s or not, and how long other teams in the Major League took to embrace the change in racial policy.
The article clearly presents a critique on the Communist Party’s claims on its contribution towards the changes of the racial policies in the Major League baseball. From the writer’s point of view, it is clearly evident that the Communist Party did not play significant role in the integration process as they have always claimed.