Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Crossing the Divide: Satchel Paige

The Catholic comic Treasure Chest is actually a mini-gold mine for someone looking for Golden or Silver Age comic books featuring African Americans. In Treasure Chest there are a mixture of fictional and factual stories, and it is true accounts of the lives and activities of famous African Americans that are sometimes depicted. I picked this story about the baseball player Satchel Paige especially because of the last three panels, but generally because Paige is someone I had never heard of before, and it was interesting reading about him. Those last three panels really drive home the role that African American sports personalities played in bridging the racial divide. That they had to shoulder this responsibility speaks to the power of prejudice against difference that develops in unenlightened societies, as people allow themselves to be driven by their animal instincts instead of their intelligence. Unfortunately, the achievements of so many other African Americans remain unknown because of a color-filtered mechanism of apportioning worth to human activity. Anyway, this is a charming tale about someone who was, by this account, a good man and someone well worth knowing about. We know about him because of his success in baseball, something the majority in society recognized as an accomplishment and that earned him respect. "The Ageless Satchel Paige" is from Treasure Chest Vol. 8 # 17, April 23, 1953.

Published by George A. Pflaum of Dayton, Ohio, the original Treasure Chest series ran from 1946-1972 and was only available on subscription or through Catholic schools, where they were a classroom resource. Until the 1960s the comics were published bi-weekly, and thereafter were monthly and twice the size. More information on Treasure Chest is available in a Wikipedia entry:

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