The most important events in African-American sports history

by Alyssa Sarmiento
The most important events in African-American sports history

Black people never had it easy. There were always hindrances and limitations set in place that prevented them from achieving their aspirations easily. However, despite the discriminations and limitations of laws such as the Jim Crow law due to racial segregation when it was implemented 1877-1954., African-Americans still persevered, obtained glory, and are responsible for many records and momentous occasions in American sports history. The athletes listed below overcame some of the most difficult racial hurdles and limitations of the period and still won.

Althea Gibson

Making a mark as an African-American is hard enough as it is, women surely got it two times harder but it didn’t stop Althea Gibson, she was the first black woman to win a Grand Slam title in tennis when she was victorious in the 1956 French Open. Hungry for success, she went and captured a title at each of the Grand Slam tournaments for a total of 11 Grand Slam championships overall. She also competed on the LPGA Tour in 1964, becoming the first woman ever to compete professionally in both tennis and golf. Talk about being an achiever!

Art Shell becomes NFL's first African-American head coach

Shell was the first African-American to serve as a head coach in the modern NFL when the Los Angeles Raiders hired him in 1989. Shell, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and eight-time Pro Bowl selection as a player, won the AFC Coach of the Year award in 1990 after leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record and the AFC West title.
A famous Art Shell quote is, “When you walk out there, when you into that stadium, you walk out there with a presence. Mr. Davis called it a swagger.” and boy did he bring that swagger and the raiders to that AFC West Title.

Chuck Cooper, Earl Lloyd, and Nat Clifton became the first Black players in the NBA

On October 31, 1950, 21-year-old Earl Lloyd became the first African American to play in an NBA game when he took the court in the season opener for the Washington Capitals. He didn’t even know that he’d been drafted by the NBA until he ran into a friend on campus asking him if the rumors were true that he’d be moving to Washington. Hmm, destiny or fate?

Two other Black players joined the NBA that season—the Celtics drafted Chuck Cooper in the second round and the New York Knicks got Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton from the Harlem Globetrotters—but the Knicks and the Celts didn’t start their seasons until November. As a result and a technicality, Lloyd became a coincidental pioneer: the first Black player to make his debut in the NBA.

DeHart Hubbard and John Taylor win Olympic gold medals

Dehart Hubbard didn't compete in all events for which he qualified, not because he didn't want to, but because he wasn't allowed to. Despite the obvious discrimination, nothing stopped him from persevering and at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, William DeHart Hubbard earned his place in history. The track-and-field athlete became the first African-American to win a gold medal in an individual event, the running long jump. 

The first EVER African-American athlete to receive a gold medal in the Olympics was John Taylor. He was dubbed the “colored wonder” by The Philadelphia Inquirer. At a young age, John Baxter Taylor Jr. was already breaking records left and right. He was a member of Penn’s track and field teams in 1903 to 1908. Guided by famed trainer and coach Mike Murphy, he helped the team return to track and field glory.

We saw a lot of inspiring success stories like these athletes doing brilliantly and earning a name for themselves. Majority of them started their journey to success while they were still young but It is never too late to embark on yours. It’s time to commence your own path to record-breaking achievements and become an olympian! Keep in mind that when you dress like an athlete, you’re more inclined to train and become interested in being fit.

Our sportswear combines the elements of fashion and sports clothing together, which results in an excellent blend of the best fit wear suitable for you. Ready to find your athletic wear? ThatLincolnLife collections is a perfect place to start. 

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by Alyssa Sarmiento