UPPER MARLBORO, MD– On August 23, Barack Obama Elementary School welcomed the surviving members of the 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars Team. The team shared with students their story of being the only all Black little league team, in formerly segregated Charleston, SC.
“It is an honor to have the 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars Team visit with the students and staff of Barack Obama Elementary School,” said Pearl Harmon, principal, Barack Obama Elementary School. “I am thrilled that my students had the opportunity to engage in living legends who utilized unfortunate circumstances to create an extraordinary opportunity.”
The 1955 Cannon Street All-Stars were denied the opportunity to participate in the 1955 Little League World Series due to the collective boycott of 61 leagues in South Carolina. Consequently, the team was declared State Champions by default by Little League, Incorporated, and went on to the Little League World Series in 1955 as honorary guests. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to play despite the roar from the crowd, “Let them play”.
Since that day in 1955, the chant: Let Them Play; has become the title of their published children’s book. Representing the team of eleven remaining members included Vermont Brown, John Rivers, and Leroy Major. Brown recounted stories to the students of how they made due with limited supplies as they mastered the game of baseball using a half cut rubber ball, broomstick, and paper bag as a glove to play.
When asked what message they wanted the students to take away from their story, Brown stated: “I hope the students know that we had courage, strength, and respect; and that life can change within a minute’s notice, without notice.
“Never be discouraged by disappointment and life’s setbacks. Continue to persevere and recover, and never let your dreams be stolen by anyone. Engage in teamwork whenever possible, what you can accomplish as an individual can be increased ten-folds through teamwork – stay strong, keep the faith, God bless,” Teammate John Rivers added.
The assembly was concluded by the reading of an excerpt from their children’s book; Let Them Play, and closing remarks from principal Pearl Harmon.