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Gerald Early

world champion boxer and political activist, was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, the eldest of two sons raised by Cassius Clay Sr., a sign painter and something of a frustrated artist, and Odessa Grady, a domestic. Young Clay began to take boxing lessons at the age of twelve because someone had stolen his bicycle and he was determined to exact revenge against the perpetrators. He never discovered who stole his bike, but he did blossom as a young fighter, taking instruction from the Louisville policeman Joe Martin. His brother, Rudolph Arnette Clay (Rudolph Valentino Clay in some sources and later Rahaman Ali), also took up boxing, but, lacking his brother's talent, never became a significant presence in the sport.

Clay became a gym rat feeling that he could succeed in boxing as he never could in school Although he showed no special ability in his ...

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McKay Jenkins

tennis player, author, and political activist, was born Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Arthur Ashe Sr., a police officer, and Mattie Cunningham. Tall and slim as a young boy, Ashe was forbidden by his father to play football; he took up tennis instead on the segregated playground courts at Brookfield Park, near his home. By the time he was ten years old he came under the tutelage of a local tennis fan and physician from Lynchburg, R. Walter Johnson. Johnson had previously nurtured the talents of Althea Gibson, who became the first African American to win Wimbledon, in 1957 and 1958, and his second protégé would prove no less successful. Johnson was an exacting coach he had his charges practice hitting tennis balls with broom handles to develop their hand eye coordination But his lessons extended beyond tennis he also ...

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Michelle S. Hite

tennis player, activist, broadcast journalist, and humanitarian. Born in Richmond, Virginia, Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was the son of Arthur and Mattie Ashe. Arthur experienced a traumatic loss at age six when his mother died suddenly. He turned inward and toward books and learning. An excellent student, he graduated first in his high school class. Given his appetite for books, success as a student was likely; however, given his physical stature, his success as a tennis player was a surprise. Though physically small, the skills he honed on the public recreational courts, maintained by his father, helped mold him into a top player.

Coming of age in segregated Richmond Virginia shaped Ashe s early tennis experiences and informed his political consciousness He was not allowed to compete on the city s best courts or in the city s top tournaments To improve his game he ...

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Alonford James Robinson

Arthur Ashe was born July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Mattie and Arthur Robert Ashe Sr. He began playing Tennis at the age of ten under the guidance of Dr. Walter Johnson, a prominent coach of African American youth from Lynchburg, Virginia. With Johnson's coaching, Ashe won three American Tennis Association (ATA) boy's championships, becoming the first African American junior to be ranked by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA).

Between 1960 and 1963 Ashe won three ATA men's singles titles, became the first African American on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team, and the first African American to win a USLTA national title in the South. His achievements earned him a full scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he attended from 1961 to 1966 earning a bachelor s degree in business administration While in college Ashe won the U ...

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Ron Howell

first African American elected to political office in Brooklyn, New York, and a leader in the mid-twentieth century effort to integrate American tennis, was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis, then part of the British West Indies. His mother was Lillian de Grasse Baker, whose family had successful retail businesses on the island; his father was the Reverend Alfred B. Baker, a Wesleyan Methodist minister.

Tragedy struck in 1900 when Lillian Baker died of consumption. Bertram, an only child, would find comfort in the care of his maternal grandmother, Eliza de Grasse. In 1905 Baker's father left Nevis, accepting an offer to become founding pastor of the Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist Church in Brooklyn. The Reverend Baker would later also found the Beulah Wesleyan Methodist Church in Manhattan.

In 1915 the Reverend Baker returned to Nevis to pick up his seventeen year old son Bertram who ...

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Terence M. Mashingaidze

nationalist politician, first titular president of independent Zimbabwe, statesman, peace broker, clergyman, author, soccer administrator, academic, poet, and journalist, was born on 5 March 1936 at Esiphezini, in Essexvale (now Esigodini) District near Bulawayo in Southern Rhodesia. The versatile Banana’s father, Aaron, was a migrant laborer from Malawi while his mother, Jese, was a Zimbabwean Ndebele woman. Banana married Janet Mbuyazwe in 1961; the marriage produced three sons and a daughter. Banana attended Mzinyati primary school and Tegwani High School. He trained as a teacher at Tegwani Training Institute and then attended Epworth Theological Seminary, resulting in his ordination as a Methodist preacher in 1962 Subsequently he worked as a Methodist schools manager principal chairperson of the Bulawayo Council of Churches and member of the Rhodesian Christian Council and World Council of Churches In the 1970s Banana attained a BA with honors in theology through distance learning from ...

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Stephen Eschenbach

politician, journalist, and Negro League professional baseball pitcher, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of four children. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a nurse. His mother wanted him to pursue medicine, but Brown was interested in sports and studying social problems. After preparing at Howard Academy in Washington, D.C., Brown went to Harvard.

Brown majored in economics but also played baseball, lettering as a left-handed pitcher. He worked his way through Harvard as a janitor and waiter. During summer breaks he was a Red Cap at Grand Central Station in New York, and also played in the Negro Leagues. In 1923 and 1924 he pitched for the New York Lincoln Giants Interestingly Harvard usually aggressive about enforcing early NCAA rules barring athletes from playing professional sports apparently did not punish Brown when he played in the professional ranks before returning to the Harvard baseball ...

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Gregory Travis Bond

athlete, dentist, and politician, was born in Topeka, Kansas, to Gary W. Cable, a teacher and postal worker, and Mary Ellen Montgomery Cable, a public school administrator and civil rights activist. In 1894 the family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Cable attended public school and graduated from integrated Shortridge High School in 1908. He moved on to the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire for the next school year and enrolled at Harvard University in 1909.

Cable had not participated in organized athletics in high school, but he tried out for the freshman track team at Harvard and caught the eye of Coach Pat Quinn. With Quinn's guidance, Cable developed rapidly. In the annual Harvard-Yale freshman meet, he won the hammer throw and he also performed well in the 220-yard hurdles and the broad jump (now the long jump) in intramural competitions.

He easily made ...

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Adam R. Hornbuckle

track and field athlete, Olympic decathlon champion, professional football player, community organizer, and motivational speaker, was born on 9 December 1933, in Plainfield, New Jersey. Milton Gray Campbell was the second of three children of Thomas and Edith Campbell. His father worked as a taxi cab driver and his mother as a domestic. At Plainfield High School Campbell excelled in football, track and field, and swimming. In his junior year he competed in the 100 meters and the 110-meter high hurdles at the 1952 United States Olympic Trials finishing sixth in the second semifinal heat of the 100 meters and fifth in the finals of the 110 meter high hurdles Later that summer Campbell competed in the Amateur Athletic Union AAU Decathlon National Championships which also served as the Olympic Trials for the two day ten event contest In his first attempt at ...

Article

Kimberly Cheek

track-and-field athlete, was born John Wesley Carlos in Harlem, New York, the youngest of five children of Earl Vanderbilt Carlos, a cobbler, and Vioris Carlos, a nurse's aide. Initially Carlos desired to become an Olympic swimmer, but few African Americans had access to suitable training facilities for those events. He was encouraged by local police officers to become involved in track and field and trained at the New York Pioneer Club. He competed for the first time when he represented the Machine Trade and Metal High School at the Penn Relays. During his senior year Carlos married Karen Benjamin Groce on 29 February 1965 and with her had two children. Following high school he was awarded a full track-and-field scholarship to East Texas State University at Commerce.

In 1967 during his first year at East Texas State Carlos won the university s first Lone Star Conference title and ...

Article

Curt Johnson

professional soccer player, later became the charismatic leader of the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA; Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) forces in eastern Angola during the Angolan Revolution. He subsequently broke with the leadership of the MPLA and led a faction opposed to MPLA President Dr. Agostinho Neto. In the Angolan Civil War, his faction was allied with Holden Roberto’s Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA; Front for the National Liberation of Angola) and Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA; National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) against Neto’s MPLA.

Daniel Júlio Chipenda, an Ovimbundu, was the son of Jesse Chipenda, a prominent Protestant clergyman and activist who died in a Portuguese prison camp in 1969 The younger Chipenda associated with Angolan dissidents in Luanda He later was a popular student athlete at Coimbra University in Portugal 1958 ...

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Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

Major League Baseball player. Roberto Clemente Walker was born in Barrio San Anton in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the youngest of the seven children of Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. His father was a foreman on a sugarcane plantation, and his mother ran a grocery store for plantation workers. As an adolescent, Clemente excelled in sports such as track and field and played amateur baseball with the Juncos double-A club and with the Santurce Crabbers in what was known as the Puerto Rican Winter League. Because he was fast, had a great throwing arm, and was also a strong hitter, scouts from big league teams watched him play in high school.

When Clemente graduated in 1953 the scout Al Campanis signed him with the Brooklyn Dodgers with a $10 000 bonus The following season however the Dodgers assigned Clemente to play for their top affiliate in the minors ...

Article

Winifred W. Thompson

Anita L. DeFrantz is one of the most influential people in sports in the early twenty-first century. She became involved in the Olympic field as a competitor when she won a bronze medal on the U.S. women’s eight-oared shell at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. She was the first woman to represent the United States on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1986 and, in 1997, she became the first woman, as well as the first African American, to be vice president of the IOC. DeFrantz has worked on the Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta Olympic Games as a member of the United States Olympic Executive Committee.

DeFrantz was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Robert and Anita P. DeFrantz Her father directed the Community Action against Poverty organization her mother taught and eventually became a professor of Education at the University of San Francisco DeFrantz s ...

Article

John Hanners

football player, social activist, author, singer-actor, and ordained minister, was born Roosevelt Grier on a farm in Cuthbert, Georgia, the seventh of Joseph and Ruth Grier's eleven children. At age thirteen he moved with his family to Roselle, New Jersey. Offered an athletic scholarship to Penn State University, he enrolled in 1950 and studied psychology, music, and education. His college athletic career was exceptional. Not only did he receive first-team All-American football honors in 1955, but he also set an Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletics of America shot-put record (fifty-eight feet) in track and field.

In 1965 Grier signed with the National Football League's New York Giants for a $500 bonus and a yearly salary of $6,500. During a long career that lasted from 1955 through 1968 Grier was a dominant defensive tackle in an era known for excellent defensive players His size ...

Article

Hall of Fame basketball player, businessman, broadcaster, and AIDS activist, was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Earvin Johnson Sr., a General Motors worker, and Christine, a school custodian. Johnson, often called “Junior” or “June Bug,” was one of nine children and enjoyed playing and practicing basketball from an early age. He attended Everett High School, where he was nicknamed “Magic” by the sportswriter Fred Stabley Jr. after registering thirty-six points, sixteen rebounds, and sixteen assists in a game. In his senior year the team went 27-1 and captured the state title, with Johnson averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds for the season. He was selected to the McDonald's High School All-American team in 1976 and 1977 After graduation he attended Michigan State University in nearby East Lansing where during his freshman year his varsity team captured the Big Ten Conference title One year later ...

Article

Claude Johnson

was born Hudson Jones Oliver, Jr. in New York City, the third child of Hudson Jones Oliver, Sr. and Cecelia Washington Oliver. His father was a longtime stenographer and confidential secretary for Thomas Prosser & Son of Brooklyn, the United States agents for the steel and arms producer Friedrich Krupp AG of Essen, Germany. His mother was a homemaker.

Hudson “Huddy” Oliver was a brilliant player for several historically important African American basketball teams during the late 1900s and early 1910s. He later graduated from Howard University Medical School and became a prominent Harlem physician.

“Huddy” Oliver was the first “superstar” of the Black Fives Era of basketball, the period from 1904, when the sport was first introduced to African Americans on a wide scale organized basis, through the racial integration of the National Basketball Association in 1950 Dozens of African American teams emerged and flourished in New ...

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Ryan Reid Bowers

educator and U.S. secretary of education, was born Roderick Raynor Paige in Monticello, Mississippi, the son of Raynor C. Paige, a school principal, and Sophia Paige, a librarian. When he graduated from Lawrence County Training High School in Monticello, Mississippi, the surrounding institutions of higher education in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky did not admit black students. Thus Paige chose Mississippi's Jackson State College, the closest historically black college available to him. After receiving his BA in Physical Education from Jackson State in 1951, he enrolled in a physical education master's degree program at Indiana University, Bloomington, eventually earning his degree in 1964.

In July 1956, Paige married Gloria Gene Crawford. They were married for twenty-three years, had one son, and divorced in 1982. After graduating from Indiana in 1969 with a doctorate in Physical Education Paige left Indiana to become an assistant ...

Article

Paul A. Frisch

hotel waiter, baseball entrepreneur, and social activist, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of the three children of Sarah Thompson. His father's name and occupation are not recorded.

In 1871 Thompson began his career as a hotel waiter at the Ocean House in Cape May, New Jersey. The last decades of the nineteenth century were a time of increasing de facto and legal racial segregation. Most black nonagricultural workers were engaged in unskilled labor, as they were excluded from more highly paid skilled occupations. The occupation of hotel waiter held a high level of prestige in the black community because such employment was relatively clean, safe, and steady, but more intangibly, because it offered access to a privileged stratum of white society that on occasion presented further opportunities for advancement. By 1878 Thompson had been promoted to head waiter. In October 1884 Thompson joined the Hotel Brotherhood ...