Cover art for the upcoming new book, “BLACK FIVES: The Alpha Physical Culture Club’s Pioneering African American Basketball Team, 1904-1923.”

This is what several great people say (below) about Claude Johnson’s new book, “BLACK FIVES: The Alpha Physical Culture Club’s Pioneering African American Basketball Team, 1904-1923.”

The 102-page book is the first in a series detailing the pre-NBA history of African American basketball pioneers during a period known as the Black Fives Era.

This first entry in the series is about the Alpha Physical Culture Club of Harlem, the country’s first all-black athletic club, whose efforts led to the creation of the New York Renaissance a.k.a. “Harlem Rens,” the first black-owned, fully professional African American basketball team.


Praise for Claude Johnson

“Claude Johnson has gone to the front of the class as the eminent historian of the Black Fives Era.”

— Howie Evans, Senior Sports Editor, New York Amsterdam News

“Execute a swift give-and-go. ‘Give’ the Black Fives Era some respect, and ‘go’ buy this book.”

— Ron Thomas, Author of “They Cleared the Lane: The NBA’s Black Pioneers,”
Director of the Journalism and Sports Program at Morehouse College

“Nobody knows more, or has done more, to retrieve the long forgotten history of African-Americans in basketball in the decades before the racial integration of the NBA than Claude Johnson. Anybody who cares about sport or this society would be well served by spending time with these stories.”

— Rob Ruck, Author of “Sandlot Seasons” and “Raceball:
How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game,”
Historian, Senior Lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh

“Claude Johnson brings to this book not only the foremost knowledge of the Black Fives Era, but also a genuine passion and a clear understanding … in these previously untold stories.”

— Keith Houlemard, President of the Jordan Brand at Nike, Inc.

“Claude Johnson’s work holds the power of revelation.”

— Dave Zirin, Author of “The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed The World” and “A People’s History of Sports in the United States,”
Politics of Sports columnist for Nation Magazine

“The great Claude Johnson has spent the past several years chronicling the lost contributions of African-Americans to professional basketball before the NBA …”

— David Aldridge, Reporter for TNT, NBA-TV, and

“As a longtime supporter of his website and blog, I’ve been able to sense [Claude’s] dedication, and passion, for sharing the undocumented history of our beloved sport for years as a voice from within the community, not outside of it.”

— Bobbito Garcia, author of “Where’d You Get Those?
New York City’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987”


Among many fascinating and surprising facts, the book reveals for the first time how extensively West Indian immigrants controlled black basketball during its early days.

The book includes a foreword by world renowned D.J., sneaker aficionado, publisher, voiceover artist, television personality, record label owner, writer, radio host, M.C, author, and film director Bobbito García.

The ebook version of this book  is available in popular formats (i.e., Kindle, Nook, iBook, SONY Reader, Kobo Reader).

The print version of the book is also available on Amazon.

Also check updates via our Twitter feed (@blackfives), our Facebook fan page (Facebook/BlackFives) as well as via the author’s Twitter feed (@claudejohnson).