Hawks & The Black Fives Foundation To Honor Atlanta's Contributions To Early African-American Basketball Leagues

Team and the Black Fives Foundation to shine light on Black hoops from 1904-1950 with lectures, artifacts and halftime presentation
Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA -– The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club is bringing its Black History Month collaboration with the Black Fives Foundation to an apex on Feb. 24, when the team hosts the Miami Heat at Philips Arena. The Hawks and the non-profit organization will produce a throwback basketball demonstration as a tribute to the pioneers of early 20th century African-American basketball at halftime of the 8 p.m. matchup.

The Black Fives Foundation commemorates the contributions of trailblazers who created their own Black basketball league and paved the way for the integration of the NBA. This February, the Hawks have teamed with the foundation to bring awareness to Atlanta’s connection to African-American professional hoops from 1904-1950, a time known as the “Black Fives Era.” Atlanta’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities played an important role during the era: Morehouse College won 42 consecutive games and claimed back-to-back national negro collegiate championships; and, in 1950, Clark (Atlanta) University’s Hank DeZonie was one of four Black players to begin playing in the NBA, signing with the Tri-Cities Blackhawks – a team that eventually became the Atlanta Hawks.

“We recognize the significant role our city holds in America’s Black history, and we are proud to partner with the Black Fives Foundation to amplify basketball’s place in that story,” said Nzinga Shaw, SVP, Community and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Atlanta Hawks. “We are excited to use our platform to magnify an important piece of the Black narrative that needs to be shared.”

Friday’s game against the Heat will include a reenactment of game action from the Black Fives Era, complete with authentic artifacts and a look at how the game has evolved over the years. To complement the on-court display, storyboards will be exhibited in the arena, allowing fans to glean more historical information on the era.

On Thursday, Claude Johnson, President and Executive Director of the Black Fives Foundation, will speak to approximately 100 children from City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation at Pittman Park to explain the era’s impact on modern basketball.

“By celebrating the modern relevance of these inspiring pioneers with community presentations, widely-seen videos, in-arena artifact displays, and unique on-court storytelling, the Atlanta Hawks are ‘True to Atlanta’ while they make history now,” said Johnson.

At home games earlier this month and on its social media channels, the Hawks featured video vignettes, starring current players and Johnson. The videos highlight Atlanta’s contributions to the era of segregated basketball. The first three are on the Hawks’ website:

For more information on the Black Fives Foundation, please visit www.blackfives.org.