This long feature article about the Black Fives — by award winning journalist Wayne Coffey — is printed in today’s Sunday New York Daily News:
“The first Kings of Brooklyn: Historian aims to rescue and rejuvenate the social history of African-Americans in basketball”
It begins like this:
Hudson Oliver has never been in a sentence with LeBron James, until now. He never threw down a dunk on SportsCenter or made a Decision before a breathless nation, preferring to keep his considerable talents, and intellect, in New York City.
You have almost certainly never heard of Hudson Oliver, a fact that an indefatigable, self-styled historian named Claude Johnson aims to change, beginning next Sunday night, when the Brooklyn Nets host the San Antonio Spurs and a permanent photo exhibit will be unveiled in the main concourse of Barclays Center.
Black Fives Foundation executive director Claude Johnson (l.) with Forest City Ratner Group executive vice president David Berliner, on the Brooklyn Nets practice court, are ready to unveil a permanent installation of Black Fives Era photographic images at the Barclays Center.
The exhibit will consist of six striking, six-foot-high photographs that will not only commemorate Black History Month, but honor the Nets’ Brooklyn forbearers — and the legacy of the basketball equivalent of baseball’s Negro Leagues. Johnson calls it the Black Fives Era, and seeing that he has done more research into it than any person on earth, why shouldn’t he get to name it?
Please check it out.
The background for this wonderful piece is that I’ve been working closely with the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets, and descendants of the Black Fives Era on a very special project.
On February 10, 2013, the Barclays Center and the Nets will be unveiling a unique compilation of six mural-sized vintage photographic images of Black Fives Era basketball teams and pioneers, provided to them by us, which will be permanently installed in the concourse of the arena as a part of its community art program.
Images of the Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn, the first fully independent formally organized African American basketball team, will be among those unveiled.
Under the arena’s art program, the works of renowned artists Mickalene Thomas and José Parlá are already installed, with other artists to follow.
The print edition of this article appears in the “End Zone” section of the newspaper.
The unveiling of our Black Fives Era image compilation will happen during that evening’s NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the visiting San Antonio Spurs.
Through our research we found many of the descendants of the players appearing in these images, some of whom will attend this game as guests of the Barclays Center and the Nets, to be recognized at center court during halftime.
The Black Fives Era image compilation at the Barclays Center represents a historical milestone not only for the recognition of this important history, its pioneers, and their descendants, but also in the visionary way the arena has brought it new relevance, embodying the inspirational term, “make history now!” Everyone will enjoy it, from historians to artists, from Brooklynites to modern day players and basketball fans everywhere.