The Black Fives exhibition (on view at the New-York Historical Society March 14 – July 20, 2014) will explore the pioneering history of the African American basketball teams that existed in New York City and elsewhere from the early 1900s through 1950, the year the National Basketball Association became racially integrated. Just after the game of basketball was invented in 1891, teams were often called “fives” in reference to their five starting players. Teams made up entirely of African American players were referred to as “colored fives,” “Negro fives,” or “black fives,” and the period became known as the Black Fives Era. From its amateur beginnings, dozens of all-black professional teams emerged during the Black Fives Era in New York City, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlantic City, Cleveland, and other cities where a substantial African American population lived.
About the Contest
In celebration of The Black Fives exhibition opening this March, the New-York Historical Society is initiating a scholarship contest inviting metropolitan area high school students to submit original essays, videos or photographs on the theme of breaking barriers in sports and making history. A panel of distinguished judges will review applications and announce winners in each category.
Complementing The Black Fives exhibition—which considers the historical achievement of the first all-black basketball teams of the United States and their role in breaking the color barrier of the NBA—this scholarship contest seeks entries that answer the question: How has basketball profoundly changed New York City history, United States history, or your own personal history?
Submitted works, announcements, and highlights of history, ephemera and trivia from The Black Fives exhibition will be shared beginning in February.