Few of the men and women who were pioneers of the Black Fives Era are still with us.
However, there are many individuals around today whose father, mother, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, great-grandparent, or other ancestor played on one of the basketball teams of the Black Fives Era or who made valuable contributions to the advancement of African Americans in the game during that period, perhaps as a coach, an official, a promoter, or a journalist.
If this describes you, then your family heritage is tied to the history of the Black Fives Era.
To help honor you and your family, as well as your pioneering forebears, we are in the process of creating a Descendants’ Council.
If you would like to join the Descendants’ Council, please subscribe to our email list (see the button in the upper right corner of this web page) and select “Yes” for the question, “Are you a Descendant?”
We’ll follow up with you after that.
Meanwhile, did you know that one of the members of our Board of Directors – Julia Alexander – is the great-granddaughter of pioneering Black Fives Era superstar Hudson “Huddy” Oliver? He was considered the best African American basketball player of his time, prior to the early 1910s. Julia will be heading up our Descendants’ Council. You can find out more about her as well as our other Board members here.
Working with descendants of the pioneers of the Black Fives Era is one of our biggest priorities. There is strength in numbers – and getting proper recognition for early black players and contributors requires a collective effort that begins with descendants. We help identify descendants and help get them in touch with one another to share ideas, stories, and connections as well as to celebrate their family histories related to the Black Fives Era.
For example, in February 2013 over 40 descendants of players from the Smart Set Athletic Club, the Spartan Girls Club, and the New York Girls, as well as of Brooklyn-raised player William “Dolly” King, were invited by the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets to participate in a recognition event at center court during halftime of an NBA game. It was a special evening.
We also helped the family of Edwin Bancroft Henderson make the case for his enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It took 10 years. But in April 2013 he was elected for induction into the Hall, becoming the first pre-1950 selection of the organization’s newly created Early African American Pioneers Committee, a committee for which we helped advocate.
Not just descendants, but fans of basketball care about this history too, and they have fun celebrating it as well, while discovering new and inspiring stories of courage, passion, effort, ingenuity, camaraderie, tenaciousness, and more! These character traits are as important today as they were then, maybe even more than ever.
Thank you for supporting these efforts!