On January 11, 1976 baseball player Hank Aaron received the prestigious NAACP’s Spingarn Medal. Aaron was the second baseball player to receive the award, behind Jackie Robinson who received the award in 1956. Hank Aaron received the award based on “distinguished merit and achievement by black Americans”.
It is no surprise that Mr. Aaron is receiving this award after Robinson. It goes in step with when both gentlemen entered into baseball. Robinson was the first black player in the Major Leagues which busted open a door for players like Aaron and other black athletes to break into sports. Hank Aaron has stated on multiple occasions that Jackie Robinson was his inspiration.
Like his idol Jackie Robinson, Mr. Aaron had broken records. With Robinson, it was the color barrier among others. Sports fans know Hank Aaron real well. However, Aaron is known for breaking the home run record in baseball. His home run record matched that of famed Red Sox-turned-Yankees hitter Babe Ruth. As mentioned, he received hate mail and death threats. It got so bad that his children had to be protected going to school.
Off the field, Hank Aaron spent time with organizations such as No Greater Love, which focused on children of military vets who were either killed or missing in action. Other organizations Hank Aaron was involved in: Athletes for Youth, The Boy Scouts, United Negro College Fund, Junior Achievement and Easter Seals.
Mr. Aaron was presented with the 60th NAACP Spingarn medal award by then Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.