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Christine Matzke

Eritrean comedian, theater artist, musician, and sports teacher, was born on 1 February 1925 during the Italian colonial period in Eritrea in Abba Shawl, the poor segregated Eritrean quarters of the capital Asmara. His father was Kahsay Woldegebr, and his mother, Ghebriela Fitwi.

At the age of ten he attended an Orthodox Church school and then received four years of Italian schooling, the maximum period of formal education for Eritreans under Italian rule. Thereafter Alemayo worked as a messenger for an Italian lawyer and, at the age of seventeen, found employment as a stagehand in Cinema Asmara, then Teatro Asmara, an imposing Italian theater and center for Italian social and cultural life. Here Alemayo was exposed to European variety shows, operas, and cinema that fascinated him greatly, particularly the genre of comedy, such as the works of Charlie Chaplin and the Neapolitan comedian Totò.

Italian colonization was characterized by strict ...


Pedro M. Cameselle

was born on 1 October 1901 on the outskirts of the city of Salto, located in northern Uruguay. His father was believed to be José Ignacio Andrade, listed as a 97-year-old witness on his birth certificate (see Morales 12, 26). Though it is unlikely that he reached this advanced age, the father, supposedly an African-born slave who escaped from Brazil, had at one time worked as a brujo (an expert in African magic rituals). He died soon after Andrade’s birth. His mother, Anastasia Quiróz, said to be born in Argentina, laundered clothes for a living. Andrade was the youngest of four siblings, their names being Ramona, Nicasio, and Anastasia. Although it is uncertain when the family first relocated to Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1917 they permanently moved to a tenement in Palermo one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the capital city Andrade worked selling newspapers and shining shoes and ...


Caryn E. Neumann and Jill Dupont

[This entry includes two subentries, on the Negro Leagues and on integrated professional baseball.]


In June 1866 sailors from the United States who were importing Sugar from Cuba invited local Cuban dockworkers to play baseball. Thus began the Caribbean's initiation to the game, less than thirty years after its North American inception. In the few years that followed, baseball was pushed to the fore of Cuban consciousness by visiting North American businessmen, U.S. Marines, and wealthy Cuban students who had played at schools in the United States. By decade's end the development of a local talent pool was under way, and with the emerging political turmoil in the Caribbean around the turn of the century, both migrating Cubans and occupying Marines took the new pastime across the Caribbean basin.

At first baseball was played by Cuba s wealthy class lending it the exclusivity of polo cycling cricket soccer and other European sports that had taken root in the clubs of the Caribbean s urban ...


Question: “Just tell me, why do you think there is still that much prejudice in baseball today?”

Answer: “No, I don't believe it's prejudice. I truly believe that they may not have some of the necessities to be, let's say, a field manager or perhaps a general manager.”

Guess the year those words were uttered. 1930?1950?1970?1987. The further irony is that the context was a late-night talk show commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson shattered the color barrier in Major League Baseball (MLB). On top of that, the interviewee was Al Campanis who at the time was vice president of the Los Angeles Dodgers Campanis was interviewed because he had played and roomed with Robinson and on many occasions actually defended him against racial onslaughts Campanis was fired the next day The event was a stunning reminder of the perhaps more subtle ...


Paul S. Boyer and Ronald Story

Americans had played bat-and-ball games for decades when, in 1845, Alexander Cartwright of New York devised the rules—foul lines, nine innings, three outs, ninety-foot basepaths—that created modern baseball. Cartwright's game quickly became popular with young clerks and urban craftsmen. By 1860, baseball had spread throughout the Northeast, and by 1870 to the rest of the nation.

The first teams were amateur, organized by men's clubs, the games ending with dinner and drinks. Some players earned good money from ambitious clubs, which charged admission in order to pay the players. The first wholly professional team was the Cincinnati (Ohio) Red Stockings of 1869, whose manager, Harry Wright, hired every player. Taking advantage of the burgeoning railroad system to tour the country, they challenged and defeated all teams they faced that year. In 1876, entrepreneurs formed the National League (NL), with salaried players and profit-seeking owners.

Baseball ...


Alonford James Robinson

In December 1891 Canadian-American physical education teacher James Naismith, of the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, was instructed to invent a new game to entertain the school's athletes during the winter season. With an ordinary soccer ball, Naismith assembled his class of eighteen young men, appointed captains of two nine-player teams, and introduced them to the game of Basket Ball (then two words).

Since its creation, and particularly since African Americans entered the ranks of professional players in the 1950s, basketball has become one of the most popular and exciting games in the world. Black players in the National Basketball Association (NBA), including Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal, have helped to transform the game into a billion-dollar industry. African American women such as Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie have expanded the game beyond its traditional male purview and the long standing tradition ...


Donald Roe

Officials at the International Young Men's Christian Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts asked Dr. James Naismith, a physical education teacher, to come up with an indoor activity for winter that would reduce rowdy behavior among its students, as well as keep them in shape during the winter. As a result, in 1891 Naismith created basketball as an indoor sport. It did not take long for basketball to become popular. Although it is not known exactly when African Americans began playing basketball, it is probable that the sport had already reached many black communities in the early 1900s, especially in the YMCAs, YWCAs, and athletic clubs in the North. Several blacks—most notably Dr. Edwin B. Henderson the chief of physical education in the District of Columbia for what was then called the Colored School Division were active at the turn of the twentieth century in making basketball ...


Dawn Herd-Clark

A version of this article originally appeared in Black Women in America, 2nd ed.

Basketball was invented in 1891 by a Canadian-American physical education instructor named James Naismith at a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts, in response to a call to develop a sport that young men could participate in during the cold New England winter months. Originally called “basket ball,” the game evolved into one of the most popular sports in the world for both men and women. In the early twenty-first century, there were professional leagues for both male and female basketball players throughout the world. For more than a century, the only thing that stood between black women and success in basketball was opportunity. When that opportunity came in 1996, with the formation of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), they proved ready for the challenge.


Steven A. Riess

James Naismith, an instructor at the YMCA Training School at Springfield College in Massachusetts, invented basketball in 1891 as an indoor winter game. The object was to throw a soccer ball into an elevated peach basket (the “goal”). Players could not run with the ball (which led to dribbling) and received a “foul” for rule violations. Play resumed after each goal with a “jump ball.” By 1895, field goals were two points and foul shots one, and backboards were added to prevent fans from interfering with shots. Two years later the number of players on a team was fixed at five. They wore knee pads because play was rough, with frequent fights over balls that went out of bounds. Cages were built around the court to keep the ball in play and prevent fan interference.

Basketball quickly gained popularity across the nation At YMCAs settlement houses and school ...


Richard L. Pacelle

Bell, Cool Papa (17 May 1903–07 March 1991), Negro League baseball player, was born James Thomas Bell in Starkville, Mississippi, the son of a farmer; his parents’ names are not known. Because Starkville offered few opportunities for blacks, his mother sent him to live with his sister and four brothers in St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended high school for two years and worked in a packing plant. During this time Bell played semiprofessional baseball; he was “discovered” in 1922 by the St. Louis Stars of the Negro National League, against whom Bell pitched. The Stars signed him to a $90-a-month contract.

Bell played for many different teams in the Negro Leagues but he is generally associated with the St Louis Stars and Pittsburgh Crawfords Bell got the nickname Cool for his demeanor under pressure while pitching for the Stars at the age of 19 His manager ...


James A. Riley

baseball player and manager, was born James Thomas Bell in Starkville, Mississippi, the son of Jonas Bell, a farmer whose father was an American Indian, and Mary Nichols. James had six siblings, two sisters and four brothers, and said that his mother taught him to be an honest, clean-living man who cared about other people.

He was reared in the Oktoc community near Starkville and began playing pickup games on the local sandlots while attending the local school through the eighth grade. There was neither a high school nor gainful employment in his hometown, so in 1920 Bell moved to St. Louis, Missouri, to live with his older brothers and attend high school, completing two years before ending his formal education. Soon after arriving in St. Louis, he met Clarabelle Thompson, and they were married in September 1920 The marriage lasted seventy years but was childless ...


Rob Fink

Hall of Fame Negro League baseball player. The son of a farmer from Starkville, Mississippi, and the grandson of a Native American, James “Cool Papa” Bell was considered the fastest man ever to play baseball. The legends concerning his quickness prove almost Herculean in the retelling, with numerous accounts of Bell scoring in games from first base on bunts by his teammates. Bell also stole 175 bases over 200 games.

Bell began his baseball career in his hometown of Starkville, competing in local pick-up games with older youths and adults on the local sandlots. As Bell entered his teens, he found himself forced to move to Saint Louis to live with a brother because in 1920 Starkville possessed neither an African American high school nor any job opportunities for young black men.

In Saint Louis Bell attended high school for two years while working in a packing plant He also ...


James “Cool Papa” Bell's speed on the base paths was legendary. He was so fast it was said that he could flip the light switch and be in bed before the room went dark. Bell once stole an estimated 175 bases during a 200-game season, but the fine details of his career, as for so many other Negro Leagues stars, are poorly documented compared to those of his major league counterparts.

Bell began his career as a pitcher with the St. Louis Stars in 1922, at the age of nineteen. During his rookie year he struck out intimidating power hitter Oscar Charleston earning the nickname Cool from his teammates Bell s manager feeling the nickname lacked something added Papa The name stuck Shifted to the outfield to take advantage of his considerable offensive talents Bell spent more than two decades hitting for a high average and tearing up ...


Jeremy Rich

on 16 June 1914, the son of a boat repairer. Information about his early life is scant, but it is known that some of Ben Barek’s ancestry was from Senegal. By 1921 he had begun to play soccer with only a rudimentary ball made of fabric and sometimes played games where only he and a goalie challenged a full team from a different neighborhood. By the time he was fourteen years old, Ben Barek joined his first club, FC El Ouatane of Casablanca. His speed and scoring ability soon made him a star, even if his fame was not matched by financial riches in the hardscrabble world of Moroccan club soccer in the 1930s. He therefore found work in the gas industry to make a living when a young man. From 1930 Ben Barek was a top player for the second division side Idéal Club in Casablanca joining ...


Byron Motley

was born Junius Alexander Bibbs in Henderson, Kentucky to Lloyd Bibbs, a World War I veteran and first commander of the American Legion Post in Terre Haute, Indiana, and Catherine Carr Bibbs, a homemaker. The family also included his sister, Eloise.

Because of his grandparents’ entrepreneurial spirits, Bibbs’s early life was greatly influenced by them. His paternal great-grandmother, Lizzie Powell, a former slave, amassed a great amount of property that benefitted the family. His maternal grandfather, James Alexander Carr, was a grocer, a respected profession at the time in the black community, while his other grandmother, Maria Carr, became a historical figure in her own right and was the first African American librarian hired for the first library created specifically for African Americans in the United States, the Henderson Colored Library. With funding provided by millionaire philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the library opened on 1 August 1904 Created as both ...



Michael Ezra

Perhaps no sport has influenced African American culture and society more than boxing. Long before the sport was formalized, slaves worked as prizefighters, sometimes gaining their freedom if they earned their masters enough money and prestige through their exploits in the ring. The first American to compete for the world heavyweight championship was Bill Richmond, a black man and former slave, who took on and lost to England's Tom Cribb in 1805. The former slave Tom Molineaux, who gained his emancipation through pugilism, also challenged Cribb for the crown, losing bouts in 1810 and 1811. Long before their official participation in other professional sports, African Americans were making their mark in the prize ring.

Although boxing was the most popular spectator sport in the United States from the late 1840s until the Civil War blacks were excluded from the big money contests that captured the public ...