Chicago • Major League Baseball has made significant strides from the days of segregation and bigotry, but some of the sport's top figures say the work is not complete.
Commissioner Bud Selig, Hall of Famers and current players honored Jackie Robinson and other civil rights heroes at an awards luncheon in downtown Chicago before MLB's Civil Rights Game between the White Sox and the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
"We salute the pioneers who enriched our game and, by extension, our culture," Selig said. "Their courage, their leadership, were vital in the transformation of baseball into the social institution that it is today. They were among the many brave souls who helped change the direction of our nation."
Weekend events, sponsored by the Chicago White Sox, coincided with commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.'s landmark "I Have a Dream" speech.
The Beacon Awards honored retired major leaguer Bo Jackson and entertainer Aretha Franklin.
Selig praised the legacy of Robinson, who broke the color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
"The dawn of Jackie's career remains baseball's proudest and most powerful moment," Selig said. "Our game has set Jackie's legacy on a pedestal, allowing each new generation to learn how one baseball player changed the course of the United States of America through the sheer power of his magnificent example."