The month of February marks Black History Month. In 1926, Harvard scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the first Black History Week. The second week of February was chosen to include the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, two fundamental African American supporters. Over time, Black History Week evolved into Black History Month. Throughout each February, Americans honor African Americans from the past and the present, in additon to those who will shape the future.

This year, during Sixers February home games, we honor several of the most influential African Americans.


African American Notable Firsts (courtesy of the National Liberty Museum)

  • 1902 First white basketball League is integrated when an African American plays in the New England Basketball League. ( Harry "Bucky" Lew)

    Bill Russell

  • 1909 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Formed
  • 1910 First black barnstorming team, the Montcello Rifles, founded by Cumberland Posey
  • 1930-31 First African American named All-American player (George Gregory, Columbia University
  • 1943-44 First African American plays in the Big Ten Conference (Frank Whittaker, university of Chicago
  • 1948 First African American named to United States Olympics basketball team (Don Barksdale)President Harry Truman signs executive order to integrate the military
  • 1950 First African American plays in an NBA game (Earl Lloyd)
  • 1952-53 First black college competes in the NAIA tournament (Tennessee State)
  • 1954 United States Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka rules that racial segregation is unconstitutional overturning Plessy v. Ferguson
  • 1955 Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama and sparks the historical Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  • 1961 First African American student enrolled at the University of Mississippi (James Meredith)
  • 1963 First time that a majority of African American participate in an NCAA championship game. (Loyola University, Chicago starts four; University of Cincinnati starts three.)
  • 1964 Civil Rights Bill passed
  • 1965 Voting Right Act signed
  • 1966 First time in NCAA Finals history that an all black starting five team defeats an all-white starting five team (Texas Western defeats Kentucky)First African American NBA coach named (Bill Russell, Boston Celtics). He serves as a player-coach for three seasons, winning two NBA championship

John Thompson

  • 1967 Thurgood Marshall becomes the First African American United States Court Justice
  • 1968 First African American referee in the NBA (Ken Hudson)
  • 1971-72 First African American bench coach named (Earl Lloyd, Detroit Pistons)
  • 1972 First African American NBA General Manager named (Wayne Embry). He is the first black General Manager in professional sports.
  • 1972 First African American owner/coach elected to Basketball Hall of Fame as a significant contributor to the sport (Bob Douglass, New York Renaissance)
  • 1972 Title IX legislation prohibits sexual discrimination and mandates funding equity for women in sports in all federal funded educational facilities.
  • 1972 First African American head coach to win a NCAA Division I championship (John Thompson, Georgetown University)
  • 1997 First Season of the newly established WNBA, the sister league to the NBA
  • 2002 First African American owner of an NBA franchise team (Robert Johnson, Charlotte Bobcats)

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