What We Do ...
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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, problem solving, 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.

Our Historical Archives

We maintain an acclaimed collection of artifacts, photographs, ephemera, and objects
relating to the Black Fives Era of basketball that is available for exhibition and content usage.

“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 highly-acclaimed museum exhibition in 2014.

What We'd Like You To Do ...
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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.

Become A Patron

When you become a patron, for as little as $1.00 a month, you get access to our patron-only podcasts, videos, and experiences as well as a high quality thank you gift AND tax-deductibility for your pledge!
Mission basketball team

Join Our Mission.

Let's do this! Add yourself to our email list. It's free. We'll send updates about ways you can help and also share important news, amazing images, latest articles, exciting milestones, special offers, and more. (David Skinner Collection)



  • Blake Griffin
    @blakegriffin32 | Los Angeles Clippers
    “Long before I won the Slam Dunk Contest, there was William 'Dolly' King.”
    (Fox Sports Net, February 2014)
  • 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)
  • Jean Lewis Roche
    “An amazing story rescued from the dustbin of history.”
  • 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)
  • Triangle Offense
    Nick Schonberger | @nschon
    “In its comprehensive nature, the exhibition is a triumph of cultural history.” (April 25, 2014)
  • Juliet Leigh
    “What you @BlackFives are doing right now, EVERY American needs to learn about. Please don't stop!”
  • The Brunswick School
    Greenwich, CT
    “Our boys took away powerful lessons not only about basketball, but also about life, understanding, passion, dedication, and entrepreneurship.”
  • Bobbito Garcia

    “Exhibition blew my mind!”
  • 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)
  • T.J. Quinn
    @TJQuinnESPN | Investigative Reporter | ESPN
    “Everybody should know about the Black Fives!”
  • 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)
  • Henry Rollins
    “So, it is about basketball BUT ... it's bigger than basketball!”
    (10 Things You Don't Know About: Civil Rights)
  • 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.”
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Shani Taha
    “I am one of four granddaughters of Hudson Oliver. What a delight to find him listed here.”
  • 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.”
  • New York Daily News
    Wayne Coffey | @NYDailyNews
    Hudson Oliver has never been in a sentence with LeBron James, until now.”
    (February 2, 2013)

Clarence "Fats" Jenkins
Unstoppable guard who captained New York Rens for 25 years and played pro basketball spanning four decades.

Ora Mae Washington
Led the Philadelphia Tribunes to 11 straight Women's Colored Basketball World’s Championships during 1930s and '40s.

Hudson "Huddy" Oliver
Four time winner of the Colored Basketball World Championship with three different teams through early 1910s.

Clarence "Puggy" Bell
Won the World Championship of Pro Basketball with New York Rens (1939) and Washington Bears (1943).

We maintain a portfolio of authentic Black Fives Era team names and logos that are historically accurate and forensically restored. To see the stories behind the teams represented by these logos, just click on any of them.

The team names, logos, service marks, and trademarks below are the property of the Black Fives Foundation. They constitute some, but not all, of the intellectual property we own and maintain. Any use without the expressed, written consent of the Black Fives Foundation is strictly prohibited. Please feel free to contact us for more information. Thank you.