This year marks the 100th anniversary of African Americans in professional basketball!

Major A. Hart

Major A. Hart, first to openly promote play-for-pay among all-black basketball teams.

One hundred years ago this October, in 1910, the first all-black play-for-pay team was formed in New York City.

They were called the New York All-Stars.

The team’s founder was a man named Major A. Hart, an African American who had served in the Philippines as a rifleman in the Spanish-American War.

The way he did it was a bit awkward, but his progressive effort was on the right side of history.

Unfortunately, he was too far ahead of his time.

Sabotaged by his own community, through sports journalists in the African American press, he was effectively blockaded from success by way of a boycott, and his team eventually failed.

Nevertheless, Hart’s pioneering efforts paved the way for others to try again.

“That this game has taken a firm hold of our people,” he wrote,  “has been demonstrated beyond a doubt.”

New York All Stars

The New York All Stars, 1910.

BlackFives.com is celebrating this historic milestone with many exciting new efforts and plans!

For example:

  • Last week we established the Black Fives Community Fund, a charitable entity (contributions are tax-deductible) that benefits social, educational, cultural, and civic improvement efforts in communities where teams of the Black Fives Era once played.
  • We’re also going to stage some events and activities for a special group we like to call the Descendants of the Black Fives Era — and everyone including “non-descendants” will be able to participate!  Ellen Jenkins Harris, the daughter of former New York Rens player Clarence “Fats” Jenkins is helping us with this effort.
  • Then, we’re expanding our online content to include brand new materials such as online courses, virtual tours, tele-seminars, live Q&A sessions, and exclusive interviews!
  • We’ve also got new audio and video, as well as new team-, player-, and contributor profiles in development!
  • And, due to popular demand, we’ll be offering some new or never-before-seen merchandise, and bringing back some old favorites!
  • Plus, we’re creating a bunch of new downloads and related online social networking activity!
  • We have a large, rare, and historically important collection of first-rate visual material, antique artifacts, period objects, game memorabilia, ephemera, and related items connected with the Black Fives Era, which we would like to exhibit; we’ll need help in this area, no doubt, but we’ve begun discussions in that direction!
  • Finally, we would really like to do some wonderful things in collaboration with the National Basketball Association, its teams and players, and/or other professional basketball organizations, since, after all, they are today’s direct line recipients — as are we all — of the pioneering contributions made by the very first black basketball pros a century ago!

So, please stay tuned for announcements about all of these initiatives.  Thank you!

Meanwhile, Happy 100th Anniversary!