Happy “Black Fives Day”!
A year ago today the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets started something special with a celebration of the history of Brooklyn-related African American basketball teams and pioneers, which included the presentation of a special proclamation from the Office of the Mayor, declaring that day, February 10, 2013, as “Black Fives Day” for the City of New York.It was an unprecedented recognition, appropriately bestowed in Brooklyn, the borough that gave us the Smart Set Athletic Club, the first formally organized, independent African American basketball team, in 1907.
That was the first annual “Black Fives Day” and today we celebrate the date again! This year we have many wonderful updates to share!
Barclays Center TV
We start with the great news that last week, Barclays Center TV (BCTV) finished shooting a special Black Fives Era history segment that features Claude Johnson in the arena discussing the exclusive compilation of mural-sized vintage black basketball images the Barclays Center installed in its concourse, that were unveiled a year ago today, as well as their related history itself and the significance of the arena’s role in helping to make this relevant today.
The segment will air as part of BCTV’s regular programming throughout Black History Month and beyond.
We are also thrilled about the upcoming Black Fives Exhibition at the New York Historical Society Museum & Library, which opens March 14 through July 20, 2014. It is an important, first-ever exhibition that goes deeply – and sometimes poignantly – into the history of African Americans in basketball going back almost 50 years prior to the formation of the NBA.
It is a must-see exhibition for every basketball fan, and for anyone else who also enjoys learning about sports history, Black History, or American history.
Just as exciting, in connection with the Black Fives Exhibition, the New York Historical Society has produced a short film that introduces this history to its patrons entering the exhibit. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Marco Williams and narrated by Claude Johnson. “It is an excellent overview that is exceptionally well made,” says Johnson.
For anyone who can’t make it to the exhibition, the film also will be posted online at the museum’s website.
Basketball History Scholarship Contest
Complementing the Black Fives Exhibition, the New York Historical Society is conducting a new $1,000 basketball history scholarship contest! What’s really cool about it is that there will be one winner in each of three different categories: essay, photo, or video. Each entry must answer the question, how has basketball profoundly changed New York City history, United States history, or your own personal history?
Deadline: February 24, 2014.
So far, the panel of judges includes John Starks, Bobbito Garcia, and NY1’s Budd Mishkin. The names of the finalists will be posted online soon after the deadline, and individual winners will be announced at or around the opening of the exhibition (March 14, 2014).
Fox Sports Net Vignettes
Fox Sports Net (FSN), in collaboration with the Black Fives Foundation, has produced a new series of film vignettes that the network has begun airing on its affiliate stations in the 14 markets where it broadcasts NBA games. FSN asked a total of 35 current NBA players to appear in the vignettes, to discuss corresponding Black Fives Era pioneers with whom they are teamed up. It is a groundbreaking project! “This is unprecedented in the history of the league and in the history of basketball,” says Black Fives Foundation executive director Claude Johnson. “We have to realize that it is pioneering work by Fox Sports Net in and of itself.”
See more details including some of the videos here.
CBS Sports Network Documentary
CBS Sports Network is finishing up an original programming hour-long documentary with the working title, “Above the Rim: Basketball’s Great Impact,” directed by award winning filmmaker Rich Gentile. It is about the history of the role of basketball in the black community, making it a unique and important approach to the history itself and its relevance. We get to brag about the project and celebrate! That’s because two members of our Board of Directors – Howie Evans and Claude Johnson – appear in the documentary, and because it uses several images from the Foundation’s historical archive. We can’t wait to see it, scheduled to air later this month!
Black Fives Day Proclamation
If you have not yet claimed your own free high-resolution copy of the special proclamation from the Office of the Mayor declaring February 10th as Black Fives Day for the City of New York then please do so now! Just add yourself to our email list to get the link. It’s free! And it’s suitable for framing! Celebrate Black Fives Day by downloading it today!
All of these updates are amazing, considering where this all began, with virtually no one knowing much about the history of the Black Fives Era. But whether these developments are small incremental steps or significant breakthroughs, each of them is so important. They lead us further along the path in our journey to “Make History Now!” That’s our mission – to research, preserve, exhibit, and promote the history of the Black Fives Era of basketball so we can engage, inspire, and teach youth and others while honoring its pioneers and their descendants.
Celebrate “Black Fives Day!”