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Hasaan A. Kirkland

football player and painter, was born Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr. in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Ernest Barnes Sr., a tobacco worker, and Fannie Mae Geer, who worked for a local legal official. On occasion Barnes talked with Mr. Fuller, his mother's employer, and from him learned about culture, art, and classical music.

Before the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 it was uncommon for African Americans in North Carolina to have access to museums or other sources of information about ancient or world cultures Segregation and racial inequalities in schools and other public institutions deprived most back children of avenues for artistic pursuits Despite such constraints Barnes s mother exposed her son to as much culture and art as she could he studied dance and horn and percussion instruments as well as the visual arts By the time ...

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Dolph H. Grundman

basketball player and executive, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of a railroad brakeman. Little else is known about his parents. Baylor grew up in a poor section of the District of Columbia and played basketball at the all-black Spingarn High School, where he scored sixty-eight points in a single game to establish a new record for a D.C. high schooler. Although he was the first African American to make the all-metropolitan team, his poor grades discouraged college recruiters. Thus Baylor started his college career with a football scholarship at the tiny College of Idaho, which had only 450 students. Sam Vokes coached both football and basketball and decided that it made good sense to keep the talented Baylor off the football field Baylor proceeded to average thirty one points a game and made the NAIA All American team which recognizes the achievements of small school athletes After ...

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Thomas A. Mogan

basketball coach and educator, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to Earley Chaney (whose maiden name is not now known) and a father he never knew. The oldest of three children, Chaney grew up in a poor section of Jacksonville called Black Bottom. Chaney's mother was a domestic worker for a white lawyer's family in the Riverside section of the city. Although Chaney never met his biological father, his stepfather, Sylvester Chaney, was a major influence in his life. Chaney's experience of childhood poverty would play a major role in his lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the student-athletes under his charge.

Chaney moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of fourteen when his stepfather got a job at the Veteran's Hospital. Chaney emerged as a basketball star at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia. Despite being named the MVP of the Philadelphia Public League in 1951 he ...

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basketball player, was the only child born to his parents in Little Rock, Arkansas. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. When he was six years old, his mother moved him to Chicago, where he was raised by her and his aunt. Clifton, whose nickname originated with his predilection for sugary-flavored drinks like soda pop, also had a name change in high school. Born Clifton Nathaniel, he was warned by reporters who covered his basketball games that the last name of “Nathaniel” was too long for sports summaries. Subsequently, Clifton reversed his names.

By his sophomore year Clifton was already 6 feet, 5 inches (he would grow another 2 inches in total), and he became a dominant force on the DuSable High School basketball team. During DuSable's run at the Chicago city championship in his senior year (1942 Clifton dazzled in both the semifinal against Austin scoring ...

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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 ...

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basketball player, was the third of five children born to John DeJernett, a day laborer, and Mary Woods, a housewife. Though born in Garfield, Kentucky, as a baby DeJernett was moved with his family to Washington, Indiana, when his father found employment repairing railroad tracks on the B&O line that had been damaged during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, one of the worst natural disasters in Ohio's history.

DeJernett grew up in a working-class neighborhood, and attended the segregated Dunbar Elementary School before entering the junior high school section of the integrated Washington High School. In 1925 the high school hired Burl Friddle, a celebrated Indiana high school and college basketball player, to coach the team and teach physical education. Friddle immediately saw that DeJernett's height and jumping ability would suit him well on the basketball team, and recruited the novice for the team.

Though DeJernett was ...

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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 ...

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Susan J. Rayl

professional basketball player and team owner, was born in St. Kitts, British West Indies. No information is available concerning Douglas's parents or his early education. He observed his first basketball game shortly after arriving in New York City in 1902. In around 1919 Douglas and some friends organized the Spartan Field Club, which offered black New York City youths the opportunity to participate in amateur cricket, soccer, track, and basketball. Coach Douglas's basketball team, the Spartan Braves, were successful, and at times he joined them on the court.

In 1922 Douglas ran into problems with the Metropolitan Basketball Association an amateur organization over the status of a couple of his players Because of this controversy Douglas organized the New York Renaissance a professional basketball team He approached the owner of the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem agreeing to use the name Renaissance in return for practice and playing ...

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basketball coach, was born in Paducah, Kentucky, the only child of Lester Gaines, a cook, and Olivia Bolen, a domestic worker. By the time he entered Lincoln High School in rural Paducah, he was already six feet, five inches tall and weighed 265 pounds. He became a powerhouse on the football team and made All-Conference. In 1941 Gaines graduated third in his class of thirty-five.

Education was very important to his parents, so it was understood that he would go to college. While visiting Morgan State College in Baltimore, where he ultimately enrolled in 1941, the business manager, James “Stump” Carter, spotted Gaines walking across campus and exclaimed, “Man! The only thing I've ever seen bigger than you is a house!” (Gaines, 2004). From that day forward Gaines became known as “Big House.”

Gaines excelled in college athletics He made All American for two years and ...

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Greta Koehler

professional basketball player, was born William Penn Gates in Decatur, Alabama. Gates moved to New York City with his family when he was three and grew up playing basketball at the Harlem YMCA. Interestingly he did not owe his nickname to this game but earned it from playing stickball with boys who thought he was older than he was. He attended Benjamin Franklin High School and helped the school's basketball team win the Public Schools Athletic League championship in 1938.

Following his graduation, Gates briefly attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, but quickly went back to New York because he “didn't like the barriers of prejudice down there” (New York Times, 19 Feb. 1989 The 6 foot 3 inch forward and guard started playing with the Harlem Yankees Soon thereafter the all black Harlem Renaissance who had seen him practice bought Gates s contract for ...

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Rita Liberti

basketball player and teacher, was born in Bennett, North Carolina, the eighth of ten children of William Green Glover, a farmer and lumberjack, and Carrie Marsh. As a youngster Ruth acquired and honed her basketball skills, playing with her brothers on a makeshift court in the family's yard. These experiences helped prepare her for the competitive basketball she played in high school and college. Glover graduated from Chatham County High School in Siler City, North Carolina, in 1933 and then earned a BA in Elementary Education from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1937.

The year Glover entered Chatham County High School a girls basketball team was established providing female students at the all black school the same opportunities their peers already had at the all white Siler City High School Glover eager to test the skills learned playing informally with her brothers signed up immediately ...

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Dolph H. Grundman

basketball player, was born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, the son of Matthew, a laborer, and Hattie Haynes. When Marques was four his father left the family so that he was raised by his mother and two older brothers and a sister. Since Oklahoma was a segregated state, Haynes attended segregated schools. His introduction to basketball began when he accompanied his sister, Cecil, to her basketball practices. As an elementary school student Haynes walked over to Booker T. Washington High School and watched his older brother, Wendell, compete. By his junior year in high school Haynes made the varsity team which won the National Negro High School tournament played in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941 He played well enough to win a spot on the all tournament s second team At Booker T Washington High School Haynes played football and basketball In his senior year Haynes ...

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Dolph H. Grundman

basketball player and coach, was born K. C. Jones in Taylor, Texas, the son of K. C. Jones, a laborer, and Eula (maiden name unknown), a maid. In 1941 his parents separated and his mother took her five children to San Francisco, in search of new opportunities. The segregation of 1930s Texas was suffocating, and Jones left Texas with few expectations for his future. His family lived in a public-housing project and relied on welfare. Lacking confidence in his academic skills, Jones found sports one arena in which he was comfortable and successful. As a senior in 1951, Jones, who played at Commerce High, made the All-Northern California All-Star basketball and football teams. After the season Phil Woolpert, the coach of the University of San Francisco (USF) Dons, gave him a basketball scholarship.

In the summer before he started college Jones grew four inches to stand six ...

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Peter C. Holloran

professional basketball player, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. He attended high school at Laurinburg Institute from 1947 to 1951, where he was a four-year letter winner and an outstanding all-conference and all-state player in 1951. After he was drafted and served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956, he graduated from North Carolina Central College in 1957, a historically black college in Durham. In college, Jones was again a four-year letter winner and was named all-conference three times. Jones was one of the few African American players on the National Collegiate Athletic Association list of outstanding players. After seven National Basketball Association (NBA) teams overlooked Jones, he was drafted by legendary Boston Celtics coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach in 1957 The Celtics had the last pick in the first round of the draft and Auerbach chose Jones solely on the recommendation of Wake ...

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Jason Philip Miller

professional basketball player, member of the Harlem Globetrotters, and minister, was born George Meadow Lemon III in Wilmington, North Carolina. Neither his parents' names nor their occupations are known. When he was eleven years old, Lemon went to the local movie house and saw a short reel about Abe Saperstein's famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and decided that one day he would be a member. Lemon attended public school in Wilmington, where he excelled at basketball and football. In 1952, while still a high school student, he wrote the Globetrotters to request a tryout and was given one, but he failed to make the team.

That same year Lemon matriculated at Florida A M University but he spent only a few weeks there before he was drafted into the U S Army He spent two years in the service and as luck would have it was stationed ...

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basketball player, was the first of three children born to William Lew, the owner of a dry-cleaning store, and Isabelle F. Lew in Lowell, Massachusetts. The first African American to play professional basketball, Lew spent twenty-eight years in the game as a player, coach, and referee.

Lew's family was entwined in historic American moments: His great-great-grandfather Barzillai Lew fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolution; his grandparents’ home was a stop on the Underground Railroad; and civil-rights activists, teachers, and musicians were scattered throughout his ancestry.

Known as much for his proclivity for the violin as athletics at Moody Grammar School, Lew worked at his father's business after graduating in 1902. Lew had been playing with the Lowell YMCA's basketball team since 1898 where he built up a reputation as an adroit guard When Lowell s Pawtucketville Athletic Club of the New England Professional ...

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Dolph H. Grundman

basketball player, was born in Alexandria, Virginia, the son of Theodore Lloyd, a laborer, and Daisy (Mitchell) Lloyd, a domestic. The Virginia of Lloyd's youth was deeply segregated. In 1942 he entered Parker-Gray High School in Alexandria, where he played basketball, baseball, and football. At Parker-Gray, Lloyd was profoundly influenced by Lewis Randolph Johnson, who coached all of the school's sports. By 1946, when Lloyd graduated from high school, he had scholarship offers from all of the black colleges and universities along the Atlantic coast. Since Coach Johnson was a graduate of West Virginia State College in Institute just outside Charleston, Lloyd took his mentor's advice and entered the black college in West Virginia. He was the first member of his family to attend college.

At West Virginia State, Lloyd found a caring faculty and another skilled coach, Mark Cardwell The Yellow Jackets played ...

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David F. Smydra

basketball coach, was born John B. McLendon Jr. in Hiawatha, Kansas. McLendon obtained a piecemeal education, steadily taking advantage of each opportunity that he was offered. He graduated from Sumner High School in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1932 and entered Kansas City Junior College. He finished his BS in Physical Education at the University of Kansas in 1936 and earned a master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1937. One of McLendon's professors in the physical education program at Kansas was Dr. James Naismith, who had invented the game of basketball in 1891, while he was a student at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College), in Springfield, Massachusetts.

In his undergraduate years, McLendon took a couple of high school coaching jobs in Lawrence and Topeka Following his graduate studies he was hired as an assistant basketball coach at the North Carolina College ...

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Kenneth R. Fenster

baseball player, was born Nathaniel Peeples in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest of seven children of a barber and a housewife, whose names are not known. He grew up in Memphis and in 1944 graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, where he excelled in sports. From 1944 to 1946 Peeples served in the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, where he played baseball against numerous major leaguers. For the next three years he attended LeMoyne College in Memphis, where he majored in mathematics and starred as a halfback on the football team. In 1948 he dropped out of school after signing a contract to play professional baseball with the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League. From 1949 to 1951 he was a reserve catcher and outfielder with two legendary Negro League teams, the Kansas City Monarchs and the Indianapolis Clowns.

In June 1951 the Brooklyn Dodgers bought ...

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Dolph H. Grundman

basketball player, was born in Dickson County, Tennessee, the son of Bailey Robertson Sr., a meat cutter, and Mazell Bell, a domestic. In 1942 the family moved to the west side of Indianapolis, Indiana, to a black ghetto called Frog Island or Naptown, where in 1952 Oscar entered Crispus Attucks High School. Though built after considerable debate in 1927 to segregate the Indianapolis high schools, Crispus Attucks High School had become a source of pride in the black community because of its academic and athletic excellence.

By the time that Oscar Robertson made the varsity basketball team as a sophomore in the fall of 1953, Crispus Attucks was an Indiana basketball powerhouse The Crispus Attucks Tigers had never won a state championship but neither had any other Indianapolis school In addition to the general unfair treatment that black schools often had to face in integrated ...