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New Book: Black Fives

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The Alpha Physical Culture Club’s Pioneering African American Basketball Team, 1904-1923

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Authored by: Claude Johnson

Formed in 1904, the Alpha Physical Culture Club of Harlem was America’s first African American athletic club. Conrad Norman, its Jamaican-born founder, hoped to address rampant lung disease among blacks living in New York City’s overcrowded tenements by providing proper exercise facilities they could use without bias. The club’s basketball team, the Alpha Big Five, became nationally famous during the 1910s while sticking faithfully to the strictest amateur ideals. But the times were changing. The Alphas’ version of pure sport for its own sake was threatened by new black fives with visions of play-for-pay, led by team owners like fellow Caribbean immigrant Robert Douglas. Which ideal would prevail? The future of basketball was at stake.

About the author:
Claude Johnson is the founder and C.E.O. of Black Fives, Inc., a vintage sports organization which strives to be the world’s leading resource and steward for the research, preservation, education, and promotion of the pre-1950 history of African-American basketball teams, as well as a leading advocate for the proper recognition of its pioneers and their contributions.This is his first book.Born in Vienna, Austria, Johnson’s father is African American, from the South Side of Chicago, and his mother was German, from the Römerstadt section of Frankfurt am Main. He also lived in Leopoldville in the Republic of the Congo (now Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo) before moving to the United States with his parents at the age of six.
http://www.blackfives.com/
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