A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Encore Box: Black Entrepreneur Claude Johnson
Originally Published:05/21/07 BLACK ENTREPRENEUR CLAUDE JOHNSON MAKES BUSINESS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS’ BASKETBALL HISTORY
Claude Johnson’s company Black Fives, Inc. is a perfect example of the kind of spirit, drive and intelligence that provides evidence for all of us that African Americans can succeed in the business of Sports in every way.
Johnson has taken “ancient” but important history and he is selling it and in so doing keeping alive the real history of Basketball in America and creating new interest in this powerful chapter of American history. We need thousands of Claude Johnson’s making Black Capitalism work.
Johnson who worked in the NBA licensing department 10 years ago became fascinated with the early days of Black Basketball, heavily researched the subject and turned up troves of information and photos that had been buried in the Library of Congress and elsewhere ignored for years.
The result was the company formed by Johnson in 2001 in Connecticut to market the early days of Black Basketball to the nation and the world and he has been wildly successful doing so attracting the interest of Nike and Converse among other sports industry giants. Making a name for himself.
Soon after Basketball was invented – that’s right invented – in 1891 in Canada by James Naismith, teams began being referred to as “fives” because of the number of players on a team. The game grew rapidly in interest and quickly expanded to the U.S. where like everything else it was segregated. Blacks played Basketball. Whites played Basketball. But NEVER together.
The period from shortly after 1891 until the first integration of the newly organized NBA in the late 1940s, became for African Americans known as the Black Fives Era. Decades of spectacular basketball by and for African Americans and a small cadre of Whites who appreciated the best in Basketball and were not afraid to be seen at all Black sporting venues.
The Black Fives never became a formal league unlike the Negro Leagues in Baseball but the Basketball version was every bit as energetic and entertaining and held a powerful attraction in African American communities. And reflecting the richness and all round playfulness of African Americans when not under the hammer of White Society, Black Five games were about more than just great basketball. Almost all featured a full orchestra or band performing throughout and once the game was over the hardwood turned into a dance floor.
The Black Fives was barnstorming basketball with intricate national schedules of games leading up to the “Colored Basketball World Championship” each year starting in 1907 with teams like the Harlem Renaissance, the Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn, the Commonwealth Five of Chicago and the awesome Loendi Big Five, winning the annual Championship.
Today if it were not for Black Entrepreneurship and the money making potential one brilliant African American businessman Claude Johnson saw, if not for Johnson who has become wealthy selling back the Black Fives in terms of merchandise and marketing deals, no one would know about this rich rich era in American sports history. And early African American success.
Here is a description of the Black Fives era
in Claude Johnson’s own words ….
” The Black Fives Era spanned what were perhaps America’s darkest yet most colorful years, a rich period that included the First Black Migration, the emergence of the phonograph, radio, and entertainment culture, the explosion of jazz, ragtime, and the blues, vice reform, lynchings and race riots, the ballroom dancing craze, Prohibition, the Roaring ’20s, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the Golden Age of Sports.”
” Black Fives fostered hope, pride, unity, and self-esteem among African Americans during the most pivotal period in black history of the last century. The men and women of the Black Fives Era were true basketball pioneers whose desire simply to play and develop the game opened doors for generations of black players, leaving a worldwide legacy that inspires all ballers.”
Bravo Claude Johnson
now go visit his Website
learn a lot more and
The Black Fives
Live on …..
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HISTORY COMES ALIVE