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03/24/08 9:32 PM ET

MLB spotlights civil rights movement

Hall of Famer Aaron, GM's Minaya and Williams to speak

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, Mets general manager Omar Minaya and White Sox general manager Ken Williams will headline a panel discussion on Friday about the role professional baseball played in the civil rights movement.

The panel discussion, titled "Baseball and the Civil Rights Movement," will also include Martin Luther King III, Ambassador Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz, and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson.

The discussion will be held at the National Civil Rights Museum, the site of the Lorraine Motel where a gunman killed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, from 4-6 p.m. (CT). The event is part of the activities that surround the league's second annual Civil Rights Game, presented by AutoZone.

Law professor Charles Oglegree, an authority on race and justice at Harvard University, will again moderate a discussion, which will focus on the pivotal role baseball played in the civil rights movement. MLB Advanced Media will stream the roundtable live on MLB.com.

The Civil Rights Game pays tribute to one of America's most significant eras of social change. It also recognizes Major League Baseball for its involvement in the historic struggle to integrate society.

Along with the panel discussion, the game itself serves one of the highlights of weekend of activities that will bring baseball and social issues together. The other activities include the Beacon Award Banquet, which will be held at the historic Peabody Hotel on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT and will honor Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, actor/social activist Ruby Dee and the late publishing tycoon John H. Johnson for their work on behalf of civil rights throughout the world.

On Saturday, MLB.com broadcaster Billy Sample will moderate a Youth Summit, a question-and-answer session for local Boys & Girls Clubs, RBI, Little League and Memphis Redbirds STRIPES program participants.

White Sox star Jermaine Dye, Mets outfielder Marlon Anderson and actor Kyle Massey, star of the Disney Channel program "Cory in the House," are scheduled to appear.

As part of the pregame ceremonies, Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Bebe Winans will sing the national anthem and the Tennessee State University Marching Band will perform.

Winans will also perform a tribute to Rev. King by singing "I Have a Dream" with LeMoyne-Owen College Choir accompanying him. Stax Recording artist Lalah Hathaway, daughter of the late great Donny Hathaway, will perform "America the Beautiful" during the seventh-inning stretch.

At the Civil Rights Museum, the original Hall of Fame plaques of Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby, the first black players to break the color barrier in the Major Leagues, will be on display Friday, courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The plaques will also be available for fans to view Saturday at AutoZone Park throughout the ballgame.

Proceeds from all Civil Rights Game events will be donated to charity. Tickets for the game and Beacon Awards dinner are available at www.mets.com, www.whitesox.com and www.memphisredbirds.com.

Tickets are also available at MLB.com and at the AutoZone Park box office.

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.