The official logo of the Independent Pleasure Club of New Jersey
Orange, New Jersey
“The Big Six”
Forest Green, Ivory
The Independent Pleasure Club® was formed in 1908 in Orange, New Jersey at a time when sport was still considered a “pleasure.”
Independent Pleasure Club photo collage.
The club’s basketball team was one of the top African American fives in the East through the mid-1910s.
After defeating the Alpha Big Five and the Smart Set in the 1912-13 season, the “Independents,” also known as the “Big Six,” were awarded the Colored Basketball Championship of New Jersey.
The team used a lineup that included club president and star player Samuel Hayes, strongman Howard Johnson, and club vice president Nelson Frye.
Like many other black fives of that era, the Independents – whose literature advocated “uplifting the colored athletic standard” – staged social events to raise funds and build camaraderie among athletes.
Such light-hearted functions included picnics, cigar “smokers,” music recitals, dances, poetry readings, and theatrical plays.
To avoid restrictions on their activities or game schedules, the club remained independent by not affiliating with churches, Y.M.C.A.s, or Amateur Athletic Union chapters.
For more information about the Independent Pleasure Club of New Jersey, please see these related articles.