For this Famous Black Firsts I found out something. At first I was gonna do the first Black NBA player but it goes deeper than that. Who was the first Black to ever even be allowed to play basketball? That would be Harry “Bucky” Haskell Lew. Born in 1884 he was the first Black to be integrated into a game in 1902. Looking at his family history it made since that he'd make some kinda impact.
Born in Massachusetts, his family did things like serving during the American Revolution, civil rights activists, his father was a delegate during the Equal Rights Convention in 1891, and the home that his grandparents lived in was a station on the Underground Railroad. Bucky played violin before entering the dry cleaning business with his father. When he was 14 he joined the YMCA young employed boys basketball team. Yes. That was a thing.
He was described as a great double dribbler which is laughable now since it is illegal but not back then. In 1902 he was picked to get on court against all White men, things didn't go as smoothly as one would think. I'm lying. It went exactly how you'd expect. This was 1902, playa. Bucky stated in an interview “I can almost see the faces of those Marlborough players when I got into that game. Our Lowell team had been getting players from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and some of the local papers put the pressure on by demanding that they give this little Negro from around the corner a chance to play.” He spoke about the hits he received, the jeers, and the racial slurs. This was back in the day where there was no such thing as fouling out which meant when you got hit you just got hit. By the time he played his last game in 1926 it would be 24 more years before the first Black player, Charles Cooper, was drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics.
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