What We Do ...


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.


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


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 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 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.


Make History Now! Whether you contribute to our fundraising, volunteer for an event, share your skills on a project, or simply tell some friends about our mission, your generous actions make all the difference. Thank you!
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    Blake Griffin
    @blakegriffin32 | Los Angeles Clippers
    “Long before I won the Slam Dunk Contest, there was William 'Dolly' King.” (Fox Sports Net TV Vignette, February 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)
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    Jean Lewis Roche
    “An amazing story rescued from the dustbin of history.”
  • 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)
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    Universal Article
    “Donald Sterling needs this, the Black Fives history book, and a visit to the Black Fives exhibit!”
  • Triangle Offense
    Triangle Offense
    Nick Schonberger | @nschon
    “In its comprehensive nature, the exhibition is a triumph of cultural history.” (April 25, 2014)
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    Juliet Leigh
    “What you @BlackFives are doing right now, EVERY American needs to learn about. Please don't stop!”
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    The Brunswick School
    Greenwich, CT
    “Our boys took away powerful lessons not only about basketball, but also about life, understanding, passion, dedication, and entrepreneurship.”
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    Bobbito Garcia

    “Exhibition blew my mind!”
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    T.J. Quinn
    @TJQuinnESPN | Investigative Reporter | ESPN
    “Everybody should know about the Black Fives!”
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    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.” (September 1, 2014)
  • 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 TV Vignette, February 2014)
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    Henry Rollins
    “So, it is about basketball BUT ... it's bigger than basketball!”
    (10 Things You Don't Know About: Civil Rights)
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    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.”
  • 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)

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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