Roosevelt Jackson, 95, is the oldest living member of the Negro Baseball League.
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
Students at Fort Service Learning Magnet Academy in Columbus could hardly pay attention in class Thursday morning because they knew they were about to hear from a living legend.
At 95 years old, Georgia native Roosevelt Jackson is the oldest living member of the Negro Baseball League and was their guest of honor in recognition of Black History Month.
The courage and determination of players such as Jackson helped to integrate the national pastime, and forced America to take notice.
We spoke to some students right before the ceremony, who appreciate everything he's done for sports.
"He's practically a legend doing what he did in baseball and just proving to the world that everybody should have an equal chance to play all sports. So I think it's amazing that he's here at our school today," said Zharia Williams.
Not only were students full of excitement and gratitude about hearing the 95-year-old baseball legend speak, but so was the legend himself.
Jackson says being able to come to schools, live to see students play integrated sports and share his experiences to help others means the world to him.
"I don't have words to explain how much that means to me to have the privilege to speak to kids and tell them some of my background and things from some of my life," Jackson said.
He encourages students to stay in school and never forget where they came from. He says if they do this, they can accomplish anything.
After the ceremony, we caught up with Tawanna Lyles, a Georgia studies teacher at Fort Middle who had a huge part in putting this event together. She explains what she hopes her students will be able to learn from Jackson's speech.
"Our students can take away from this that anything is possible, no matter where you are from, or what type of adversities are put in front of you, you are capable of doing anything," Lyles said.