Adidas Introduces Harlem Renaissance Collection to Honor Black Basketball Pioneers

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What does basketball have to do with the Harlem Renaissance? A lot, actually. When Black basketball players were forbidden from playing in white leagues, they formed their own teams and played in the stately ballrooms of Harlem.

Where did I learn this? From the clothing company Adidas, of all places. Here’s what they shared on their website:

1920: When Jim Crow laws banned African Americans from playing in white basketball leagues, a group of locals united by the love of the game and community formed the first basketball team in Harlem.

Harlem’s basketball players trained in ballrooms, developing a style of play that reflected their ability and creativity. Built on a mastery of pace and grace, their contests set the tone for the vibrant jazz concerts that followed, where Harlemites were encouraged to bring their dance floor A-game, spawning America’s first true dance: The Lindy Hop.

The Harlemites proved they had one of the greatest teams in the world. To take a stance, players removed the word “colored” from their championship jackets, making the statement legend.

Harlem was not only the true epicenter of basketball, it was a cultural example of the power and influence of community.

To honor these pioneering athletes, Adidas has come out with a line of uniforms from that era. I really like the patches on the side that say “CBC” for “Celebrate Black Culture”!

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Thanks for the heads up, Sing Lim, all the way from Singapore! I know you are filling your shopping cart as I write this.