Larry Lester, Negro Leagues baseball historian, Black sports researcher and co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., will speak at 7 p.m. June 21 in Room 100 of Schneider Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Lester’s visit is in conjunction with a traveling exhibit, "Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience," on display through July 2 at UW-Eau Claire's McIntyre Library. The national traveling exhibit chronicles the remarkable history of baseball's Negro Leagues and the challenges and successes of African-American baseball players.
In addition to helping found the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Lester served as its research director and treasurer from 1991-95. During his tenure at the NLBM, Lester served as senior editor for its quarterly newsletter and annual yearbook. The museum’s current static exhibition was developed in 1995 from Lester’s personal collection of photographs, researched material and memorabilia. Likewise, Lester developed the traveling Negro Leagues exhibit that has been showcased each year since 1993 at Major League Baseball’s FanFest during All-Star Week.
From 2000-04, Lester was under contract with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., to do a comprehensive study of African-American baseball from the Civil War through the mid-1950s. As a dedicated advocate for equal rights, Lester actively campaigns for retroactive pensions for worthy Negro Leagues veterans and raises funds to purchase headstones to be placed on the unmarked graves of athletes. He was instrumental in securing retroactive Major League Baseball pensions for more than 85 former Negro Leagues players, while involving approximately 150 former players in MLB Properties' royalty program from the sale of Negro Leagues caps, jerseys and related apparel in the early 1990s. In 2006 he successfully campaigned with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and the Satchel Paige family for Congress to designate May 2 as Negro Leaguers Recognition Day.
Lester’s presentation, "Respect, Redemption and Recognition," 7 p.m. June 21st is free and open to the public.