STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) – The Nation’s first African American MLB player is being honored not only for his skill and successful career but for his bravery and contribution to breaking down racial barriers.
Born and raised in Steubenville, Moses Fleetwood Walker is credited as one of the first professional African American baseball players.
His career was a bang, sparking off in 1883 with the Toledo Blue Stockings but it was a short-lived career. Walker was unofficially banned from the league because of the color of his skin. A barrier unchanged until Jackie Robinson in 1947.
Claude Rustonbaker is the artist behind the mural. He was going back and forth about the subject of his next piece. He told 7News when he stumbled across Walker’s story, he knew what his next strokes would be.
Rustonbaker approached attorney Jerry Boswell about painting the mural on the outside of his law firm, Boswell started digging for research. He was shocked at what he found. Walker was accused in a murder trial for defending himself against an all-white group of males outside a Syracuse saloon.
“He was tried for second-degree murder, found not guilty on self-defense by an all-white jury and the courtroom broke out in applause,” said Boswell.
Similar applauses were demonstrated Sunday during the unveiling of Walker’s mural.
Not just in celebration of the artwork but in commemoration of the first Moses Fleetwood Walker Day signed into law last year! It was an idea lead by a college professor by the name of Craig Brown and his students.
Amid the cheering crowd was, Mark Palmer, a distant nephew of Moses Fleetwood Walker. He’s excited that his uncle’s legacy is living on for generations to come.
“It’s almost ancient history to the young kids. They can’t even imagine something like this but we should carry that history long as we can so people don’t lose sight of what people like this have actually done,” said Walker.
Original article by Royce Jones via https://www.wtrf.com/news/mural-dedicated-to-the-nation-s-1st-african-american-mlb-player/1504589648