Black History: Special Delivery!!
The Harlem Globetrotters are internationally beloved for their entertainment and basketball athleticism. In their 90 year history, they have played more than 20,000 games in more than 100 countries. The Harlem Globetrotters were founded in Chicago by Abe Saperstein, as the “Savoy Big Five” in 1926. It was an all African American team. The team debuted as the New York Globetrotter in Hinckley, IL in January 1927. The name was switched to the Harlem Globetrotters in 1930 to reflect its predominately black roster. The team established a winning record; competing against both black and white teams across the country. The team lost its first professional championship game to the New York Rens in 1939. A year later, they would win their first professional championship by defeating the Chicago Bruins. Despite their popularity, the team often experienced racism in the U.S. Until the 1970’s the team was often denied access to hotels, restaurants, bathrooms and water fountains. They were treated much better when traveling internationally.
For the first 15 years, the team would compete like all other professional teams. Their coach and founder Abe Saperstein suggested that the team begin to implement some tricks and stunts to entertain its audiences. Integrating tricks and stunts quickly became their signature trademark as a team. Once the NBA began integrating its teams in the early 1950’s, it resulted in the Harlem Globetrotters having very little competition. It was during this time that the team’s tricks and stunts would serve to carve a niche for the team as it sought to maintain an all black roster. Several members of the team would emerge as star players and performers. Players such as Fred Neal, Reece “Goose” Tatum, and Meadowlark Lemon were standout players that achieved a great deal of individual popularity. Lynette Woodard was the terms first African American female player.
2016 marks the 90th anniversary of the Harlem Globetrotters. They continue to maintain a worldwide followingCheck some vintage footage of the Harlem Globetrotters from 1950.