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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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...