Our mission is to research, preserve, showcase, and teach the pre-1950 history of African Americans in basketball while honoring its pioneers and their descendants.

How We Do It ...

We Research

With more than 20 years of continual, methodical research, we've created an unequaled body of knowledge, wisdom, and expertise about this once-buried history. Yet it's just the beginning. There's so much more to uncover and learn.

We Preserve

The Black Fives Historical Archives contain the world's leading collection of rare and historically important artifacts from the Black Fives Era of basketball, maintained and safeguarded in state-of-the-art storage facilities by a dedicated staff of professional archivists.

We Showcase

With collaborative museum exhibitions and events, or through our own multimedia storytelling and editorial publicity, we place the pioneers and artifacts of this once forgotten but important history on center stage in the spotlight that they deserve.

We Teach

Through engaging historical content and relevant storytelling, we lay out inspiring topics and valuable perspectives in areas like mindset, stewardship, dedication, teamwork, grit, and integrity. Our slogan is “Make History Now.”

We Honor

By celebrating their achievements and advocating for their recognition, we give a voice to the voiceless once-forgotten Black Fives Era pioneers who paved the way for the modern game. We also salute historically important milestones, artifacts, and venues.

We continually advocate on their behalf.

Clarence "Fats" Jenkins
New York Rens captain for 25 years, led team to 88 straight wins in 1933 and inaugural World Pro Championship in 1939.

Hudson "Huddy" Oliver, M.D.
Won 4 Colored Basketball World Championships with three different teams through early 1910s.

Clarence "Puggy" Bell
World Pro Championship titles with New York Rens (1939) and Washington Bears (1943).

Albert "Runt" Pullins
Key early Harlem Globe Trotters player who topped team owner Abe Saperstein's list of all-time greatest 'Trotters.

Will Anthony Madden
Won 4 Colored Basketball World Championships, pioneered off-court promotion.

William "Wee Willie" Smith
Star center led New York Rens to 88 straight wins during his rookie season and inaugural World Pro Championship in 1939.

Reece Tatum
⭐ Enshrined 2011.

Don Barksdale
⭐ Enshrined 2012.

Edwin B. Henderson
⭐ Enshrined 2013.

Nat Clifton
⭐ Enshrined 2014.

John Isaacs
⭐ Enshrined 2015.

Cumberland Posey
⭐ Enshrined 2016.

Zack Clayton
⭐ Enshrined 2017.

Ora Washington
⭐ Elected 2018.

⭐ A Total Of 8 in 8 Years! ⭐

During The Prior 52 Years ...


Number of Black Fives Era Pioneers Enshrined

Number of White Pioneers Enshrined, Who Competed Against Black Fives Era Pioneers
Help Us Set The Record Straight, Save This History, Teach It, and Celebrate Its Importance.

Here's How.

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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 storytelling, get inspired, and contribute some stories of your own!


This isn't only Black History, it's American History. Learn why it's 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 Supporter

Donate a one-time amount or become an ongoing patron for as little as $1.00 a month! You'll get access to our patron-only podcasts, videos, and experiences, as well as a high-quality thank you gift and tax-deductibility for your contribution!

Website New Visitors ...




Social Media Reach ...




* As of August 2018.

Mission basketball team

Join Our Mission

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


Support Our Historical Archives

The Black Fives Historical Archives contain 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.

An overview of the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball, directed by award winning filmmaker Marco Williams, was an introduction for the New-York Historical Society's highly-acclaimed museum exhibition in 2014.

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.


  • 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)