What We Do ...

Showcase

We research, preserve, exhibit, and promote the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball from 1904 to 1950, a period known as the Black Fives Era. In short, we "showcase" and light up this once forgotten but important past.

Engage

With this history we engage, teach, and inspire youth, with content and messaging that’s relevant today, in areas like leadership, inclusion, problem solving, and finding common ground. Our slogan is “Make History Now.”

Honor

We salute Black Fives Era pioneers and their descendants, applaud their accomplishments, and advocate for their proper recognition. We also identify and celebrate related historically important milestones, stories, and venues.

What We'd Like You To Do ...

Discover

Discover the rich history of the Black Fives Era! See our images and videos, read our articles, listen to our interviews, and explore our online exhibition of historical artifacts. Enjoy the story telling and contribute some stories of your own!

Learn

Learn why this history is important. Appreciate its relevance today. Gain new insights into basketball and its progress. Realize the role of stewardship in keeping the sport special. And reinforce your own love of the game.

Act

Make History Now! Whether you contribute to our fundraising, intern with us, volunteer for an event, share your expertise, or simply tell some friends about our mission, your generous actions make all the difference. Thank you!

Testimonials

  • blake-griffin
    Blake Griffin
    @blakegriffin32 | Los Angeles Clippers
     
    “Long before I won the Slam Dunk Contest, there was William 'Dolly' King.”
    (Fox Sports Net, February 2014)
  • PageLines-VVJNw7lc_400x400.jpg
    Bobbito Garcia

    “Exhibition blew my mind!”
  • Bruce-Ratner
    Bruce C. Ratner
    Minority Owner, Brooklyn Nets | Executive Chairman, Forest City Ratner Group (Barclays Center)
     
    “Barclays Center is a crossroads for Brooklyn, and honoring the Black Fives is a great way to bring sports, Brooklyn’s history, and our community together in a meaningful way.”
  • henry-rollins-b5
    Henry Rollins
     
    “So, it is about basketball BUT ... it's bigger than basketball!”
    (10 Things You Don't Know About: Civil Rights)
  • PageLines-Sunset_400x400.jpg
    Jean Lewis Roche
     
    “An amazing story rescued from the dustbin of history.”
  • PageLines-8k6zhVZs_400x400.jpg
    Juliet Leigh
     
    “What you @BlackFives are doing right now, EVERY American needs to learn about. Please don't stop!”
  • kevin-durant
    Kevin Durant
    @KDTrey5 | Oklahoma City Thunder
     
    “Long before I won Rookie of the Year, there was James 'Big Jim' Dorsey.”
    (Fox Sports Net, February 2014)
  • michael-bloomberg-16x9
    Office of the Mayor
    Hon. Michael R. Bloomberg, City of New York
     
    “And we also thank intrepid historian Claude Johnson, who has spent the past 16 years tracking down and poring over archival records, piecing together family narratives, and unearthing the photographs that now will be prominently displayed in the Barclays Center's main concourse.”
  • louis-gates-photo
    Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
    “Anyone who saw the 'Black Fives' exhibit at the New York Historical Society this summer will tell you how long the road was to integration in basketball.”
    (The Root, September 1, 2014)
  • Shani Taha
    Shani Taha
    Descendant
     
    “I am one of four granddaughters of Hudson Oliver. What a delight to find him listed here.”
  • 1222_large
    Sports Illustrated
    Alexander Wolff | @alexander_wolff
     
    “Since its rollout in September, the authenticity and subtle styling of Black Fives apparel has made it a hit. It also may be the only sportswear line whose website includes a bibliography.”
    ("Rockin' The Retros" | December 22, 2003)
  • SI for Kids logo
    Sports Illustrated for Kids
    Dante A. Ciampaglia | @daciampaglia
     
    “But when Claude Johnson, then an NBA executive, first learned about the era in 1996, he became dedicated to educating people about this crucial period in history. His efforts are paying off.”
    ("Hidden Hardcourt Heroes" | November 2014)
  • Quinn_TJ
    T.J. Quinn
    @TJQuinnESPN | Investigative Reporter | ESPN
     
    “Everybody should know about the Black Fives!”
  • PageLines-Brunswick_Logo.png
    The Brunswick School
    Greenwich, CT
    “Our boys took away powerful lessons not only about basketball, but also about life, understanding, passion, dedication, and entrepreneurship.”
  • IRSlogo
    The Internal Revenue Service
    Determination Unit Specialist
     
    “Calling regarding the Black Fives Foundation and your 501(c)3 application. I just reviewed it. It's perfect.” (August, 2014)
  • PageLines-New-York-Times-Social-Logo.jpg
    The New York Times
    “Mr. Johnson’s mission is akin to the work that has been done to preserve the history of baseball’s Negro leagues. But his task might be harder.” (March 19, 2014)
  • Triangle Offense
    Triangle Offense
    Nick Schonberger | @nschon
     
    “In its comprehensive nature, the exhibition is a triumph of cultural history.” (April 25, 2014)
  • PageLines-0e177a5fe2edc62d5828be1ebb3ffa82_400x400.jpg
    Universal Article
     
    “Donald Sterling needs this, the Black Fives history book, and a visit to the Black Fives exhibit!”

Please Support Us!
 

Learn More >

“The Black Fives”

... a short film.

This perspective on the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball, through the lens of award winning director Marco Williams, was an introduction for the New-York Historical Society's recent highly-acclaimed museum exhibition.

New Posts & Articles / Blog

Fox Sports Net Original Pioneers Campaign
 
35 NBA players render amazing television shoutouts to Black Fives Era pioneers.

Mission basketball team

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