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1955 Cannon Street All Stars Honored at Arthur W. Christopher Gymnasium
Published:
2/25/2015 2:51:28 PM


1955 Cannon St. All Stars
 
Last Thursday, a historical marker commemorating the story of the 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars and Harmon Field was unveiled during a ceremony in the gymnasium at the Arthur W. Christopher Community Center.

The All-Stars were a team of 11 and 12 year old African American boys from Charleston who were denied the opportunity to play in the 1955 Little League World Series because of their race. South Carolina Little League officials and coaches of 61 white teams, with the support of parents, organized a mass boycott of the state tournament rather than permit the Cannon Street team to compete on an equal playing field with their children.

Arthur Lawrence, former president of the Westside Neighborhood Association, welcomed attendees and shared stories of his boyhood days at Harmon Field. Ramon M. Jackson, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Carolina, shared a history of the playground, established in 1927 with funding from the William E. Harmon Foundation and support from local politicians and residents. Although it was dedicated to the “recreation of all,” Harmon Field was segregated until 1964.

Burke High School principal Maurice Cannon delivered passionate remarks highlighting the importance of Harmon Field as a recreational facility for generations of Burke students and challenged Mayor Joseph P. Riley, also in attendance, to provide a new track for his students.

Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars historian Augustus Holt offered an emotional account of his nearly two decade long battle to earn recognition for the team. During his address, Holt introduced his brother, Jerome, who played in the integrated Hickam Air Force Little League in Hawaii and earned a spot on its “All-Star” team while the Cannon Street team was denied a chance to achieve their dreams. Holt dedicated the moment to his late son, Lawrence, who died of cancer in 1999. Mayor Riley commended the All-Stars for their ability to “handle unjust rejection with grace” and praised the marker as a victory for the city.

The historical marker, located on the corner of Fishburne and President Streets, will forever stand as a reminder of the sacrifice of the All-Stars’ childhood dreams and, hopefully, represents a renewed commitment to ensuring that all children will have equal opportunity to succeed.

It is also a milestone in the effort to earn national recognition for the team, a more urgent need with the untimely death of third baseman Carl Johnson on Monday. The All-Stars have created an online petition to have the team invited to the White House. Please visit www.1955cannonstreetallstars.weebly.com to sign the petition and follow the team on Twitter @CannonStAllStar.
 

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