The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era

Written by:
Claude Johnson
Narrated by:
Claude Johnson

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2022
20 hours 46 minutes
A groundbreaking history of Black basketball

African Americans were making moves in basketball generations before the rise of the NBA. Their pioneering efforts helped popularize the sport in big cities and small towns alike and shaped the game we know and love today. From the
invention of the game in 1891 to the racial integration of all-White professional leagues in the 1950s, dozens of teams—then often called “fives”—of African American players were founded and flourished. This was a time of visionary
players, managers, and impresarios who blazed a trail, battled discrimination and marginalization, and created rich, meaningful events that strengthened their communities in the face of Jim Crow oppression.

But this era, known as the Black Fives Era, has been forgotten, overlooked, unacknowledged, and squashed. It is barely known today. For more than two decades, Claude Johnson has made it his mission to change that. A fiercely
committed advocate, Johnson has researched, preserved, exhibited, taught, and honored this important African American experience, unearthing what might have remained buried in an unmarked grave. The Black Fives is the result of his work, a
landmark narrative history that braids together the stories of these pioneers and rewrites our understanding of the true history of the game.
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Steve G.

Claude Johnson meticulously researched the early pioneering figures in the world of basketball, after the game was invented by James Naismith. The author sheds light on the often forgotten Black Fives Era, & his unadulterated passion for the topic covered is overt. Johnson takes you back to early days of African American basketball, where it was seen as social progress, often being incorporated with dance and musical offerings. The author traces the routes of the New York all stars, which in 1910, became the first black pay-for-play basketball team. Johnson documents the highly competitive battles fought for the Colored Basketball World Championships, while highlighting key figures such as Will Madden, Robert Douglas, and Edwin Henderson, considered to be the "Grandfather of Black Basketball." Before the NBA and the Harlem Globetrotters, there were the Black Fives!

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