The NAACP mourns the passing of Hank Aaron, Legendary Atlanta Brave and Major League Baseball record holder and a former member of the NAACP Board of Directors.
“Hank did not only break barriers on the baseball field, but also in the civil rights movement,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. I hope that athletes from all sports will follow in his footsteps to use their platforms for social good and to advance the cause of civil rights.”
Aaron made his Major League Debut and started his 23-year-career with the then-Milwaukee Braves. His first season saw him finish fourth in the rookie of the year voting. Aaron remains baseball’s runs batted in leader with 2,297 and total base leader with 6,856. It was in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in 1974 that Aaron, in front of a sellout crowd, hit the 715th home run of his career, breaking the mark of Babe Ruth.
Aaron was more than just a baseball player. He overcame racism in the deep south throughout his career and often received death threats while he was making his historic pursuit of Babe Ruth’s record. All the while, he remained humble and continued to power through every hurdle that was in front of him.
In 2002, President George W. Bush awarded Aaron the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his philanthropy and humanitarian endeavors. Hank Aaron represented an era in this nation of Black individuals who broke barriers. He was a close member of our family here at NAACP. We know his legacy will continue to inspire many generations to come.