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Susan J. Rayl

professional basketball player, was born Charles Theodore Cooper in Newark, Delaware, the son of Theodore Cooper and Evelyn (whose maiden name is unknown). He was a standout for the Central High School basketball team in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1925. Cooper immediately began a twenty-year career in professional basketball, playing initially with the Philadelphia Panther Pros in 1925, then going on to star for the all-black Philadelphia Giants from 1926 to 1929. Robert Douglas, owner of the famed all-black professional team the New York Renaissance, spotted Cooper in a game at Philadelphia and signed him the next day to play for his team. Cooper then began an eleven-year stint with the Rens, named for their home court, the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem. Over these eleven years the Rens earned a record of 1,303 wins and 203 losses.

At six feet four inches Cooper was ...

Article

Samuel W. Black

athlete and physical director, was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, one of eight children of Allen Dorsey, a shipping clerk, and Mary C. Sparksman. Allegheny City was later incorporated as part of Pittsburgh's north side. The five Dorsey brothers would all earn reputations as accomplished athletes in Pittsburgh's sporting community in the early twentieth century.

As a child Dorsey showed an interest in sports while watching students play basketball in the basement gym of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. After the death of his father in 1905, he went to work to help support his family. The following year, while working as a janitor on a north side estate, he secretly opened the estate gymnasium for pickup basketball games and soon organized a team with practices held on Sundays. Two of the players who attended were the future Homestead Grays baseball legends Cum Posey and Sellers ...

Article

Koritha Mitchell

educator and playwright, was born Myrtle Athleen Smith in Holly Grove, Arkansas, to Lula C. (Hall) and Isaac Samuel Smith. Myrtle attended Manual High School from 1916 to 1920, and studied pharmacy at Howard University in Washington, D.C., from 1920 to 1922. She began attending Colorado Teacher's College in 1923, earning a teaching certificate in 1924 before marrying the physician William McKinley Livingston on 25 June 1925. She left Colorado Teacher's College in 1926 and was hired in 1929 as a physical education instructor by Lincoln University, a historically black college in Jefferson City, Missouri. While at Lincoln, she taught every level of physical education and health and established a formal athletic program for female students, enabling young Lincoln women to participate in organized, competitive sports for the first time. Livingston was a well-respected teacher at Lincoln University for forty-four years, retiring in 1972 ...

Article

Chris Elzey

track coach, teacher, and administrator, was born Stanley Van Dorne Wright in Englewood, New Jersey, the son of Spencer Wright, a sanitation worker and truck driver, and Mildred (Prime) Wright, a seamstress and cook. Growing up in a northern city proved no shield from racism. In junior high and high school, Wright had little option but to follow a curriculum for black students that de-emphasized academics. His parents, however, taught him to value education.

Unfortunately, America's involvement in World War II interrupted his schooling. Soon after Pearl Harbor, Wright joined the Army Air Corps. However, he failed to complete pilot training, and his responsibilities at an airbase in Kansas consisted primarily of office tasks. While in the Air Corps, in late 1944, he married Hazel Mathes and they would have four children. In 1945 Wright was reassigned to an airbase in Massachusetts He ...