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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will stage its inaugural "Civil Rights Game" this coming March 31, when the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals play the Cleveland Indians in an exhibition game at AutoZone Park in Memphis, the home of the National Civil Rights Museum and the city where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.The 5:30 p.m. ET game, expected to annually precede the opening of the regular season, will be broadcast live on ESPN, and is planned to culminate a day during which baseball will celebrate the nation's civil rights movement."I'm nervous up here because this project is very near and dear to me," Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's vice president of baseball operations, said during a press conference on Monday to announce the event. "The idea of doing it in Memphis has always been important because it was the place where Dr. King was assassinated and everyone thought that was the figurative end to the dream. I'm very proud, about the proudest I've been during my time at MLB."Baseball has long been considered to have foreshadowed the civil rights movement. The sport was integrated on April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. That act came nearly a decade before U.S. public schools were integrated and African-Americans were allowed to sit in the fronts of buses in the South or were admitted into what were then all-white universities.
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