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Frank Robinson, Ruby Dee and the late John H. Johnson named recipients of the 2008 Major League Baseball Beacon Awards
03/13/2008 4:04 PM ET
Major League Baseball (MLB) today announced that Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actress Ruby Dee and the late Johnson Publishing founder John H. Johnson are the recipients of the second annual MLB Beacon Awards. The Awards, given to individuals for their efforts on behalf of civil rights throughout the world, will be presented on March 28, 2008, at a dinner following the Baseball & The Civil Rights Movement roundtable discussion in Memphis, Tennessee.

San Francisco radio personality and Giants public address announcer Renel Brooks-Moon will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the MLB Beacon Awards Banquet. Dr. Joseph Lowery, civil rights pioneer, will serve as the keynote speaker. Serving his community for over forty-five years, Lowery headed the Alabama Civil Affairs Association, which was committed to ending the segregation of public places and transportation. Along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he founded the legendary Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Special video tributes to White Sox legend Minnie Miñoso and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron are scheduled as part of the dinner's events as well as a performance from the LeMoyne-Owen College choir. LeMoyne-Owen College is a Memphis-based Historically Black College.

Major League Baseball also announced today that AutoZone has returned as the title sponsor for this year's game which will be televised live on ESPN (also available on ESPN HD). The 2008 Civil Rights Game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Mets will be played at 4:00PM CT on Saturday, March 29, 2008.

The Major League Baseball Beacon Awards will be presented in three different categories: Beacon of Life, Beacon of Change and Beacon of Hope. Frank Robinson will receive the MLB Beacon of Life Award for his spectacular accomplishments on and off the field, including being the first African American manager in the Major Leagues and the only player to win Most Valuable Player Awards in both the American and National Leagues. Presented last year posthumously to Buck O'Neil for his advocacy of the Negro Leagues, the MLB Beacon of Life Award is given to an individual whose life embodies the spirit of the civil rights movement. Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan will present Robinson with his award.

Actress, author and Oscar-nominee Ruby Dee will receive the MLB Beacon of Change Award, for being a champion of civil rights throughout her life. Presented last year to filmmaker Spike Lee for his years of raising the consciousness of audiences around the world with his commercial films, documentaries and other media works, the MLB Beacon of Change Award is given to an individual who inspires innovative social thought through his or her creative works. Dee's award will be presented by Belize Ambassador-at-Large Shabazz, eldest daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz.

The late John H. Johnson will receive the MLB Beacon of Hope Award for using his resources to nurture future journalists when he endowed the John H. Johnson School of Communications at Howard University. Considered a trailblazer in the magazine industry, Johnson founded Ebony and Jet magazines. Presented last year to Vera Clemente, widow of Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, for her dedication to local youth through the development and operation of Ciudad Deportiva in her native Puerto Rico, the MLB Beacon of Hope Award is given to an individual who invests in our country's future by investing in our youth. ESPN news editor Claire Smith will present Johnson's award to Kenard Gibbs, current Group Publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. Net proceeds from all Civil Rights Game events will be donated to charity, including the National Civil Rights Museum, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation, the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Foundation and Realizing the Dream, an organization dedicated to continuing the legacy and work of Dr. and Mrs. King.

Tickets for the Civil Rights Game presented by AutoZone and the MLB Beacon Awards Banquet are available on

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.