Unity through Diversity

Mixis Living Trailblazers

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EFFA MANLEY, born March 27, 1891. Manley's racial background is not completely known. She was considered as "...a white woman exposed to black culture who identified as black.” It was thought she was born from an extramarital union between her African mother, Bertha Brooks, and her white employer John Marcus Bishop.

She married Abe Manley, owner of the Negros professional baseball team, The Eagles, and he involved her extensively in the operation of the club. She displayed particular skill in the area of marketing and often scheduled promotions that advanced the civil rights movement. Her most noteworthy success was the Eagles' victory in the Negro League World Series in 1946. She worked to improve the condition of the players in the entire league, advocating better scheduling, pay, and accommodations. Her players traveled in an air-conditioned bus, considered extravagant for the Negro leagues. She took over day-to-day business operations of the team, arranged playing schedules, planned the team's travel, managed and met the payroll, bought the equipment, negotiated contracts, and handled publicity and promotions. Thanks to her rallying efforts, more than 185 VIPs—including New York City Mayor, who threw out the first pitch, and the justice of the Supreme Court for the State of New York—were on hand to watch the Eagles' inaugural game in 1935. Her influence extended beyond baseball where she was active in the black civil rights movement and a social activist. She was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.