Sports’ 20 Most Influential African-Americans

While we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are given the opportunity to reflect on all the ways that Dr. King impacted not only our lives, but individual industries.  Sports are no stranger to praising the advancement that African-Americans are constantly making. Whether its ownership, front office, agents or just being an outstanding player, African-Americans know that none of what they have been able to accomplish would be possible without the struggles, sacrifices and victories that Dr. King was able to make.  As Dr. King said in his I Have a Dream Speech, “We cannot walk alone.  And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.  We cannot turn back”, and that’s exactly what African-Americans have done in sports. So today, we wanted to reflect on 20 of the most important and influential African-Americans in the sports industry.

1. Jackie Robinson

Courageously broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947 – a time when segregation was the social norm in America. Robinson’s impact and influence was so great that baseball has retired his No.42, and his name is evoked almost daily in sports circles. Not only did he break baseball’s color barrier, but he paved the way and became an inspiration for African-Americans in all walks of life.

2. Muhammad Ali

In the arena, arguably the greatest boxer in history. Outside the arena, a symbol of the controversial 1960s. Ali stood behind his beliefs and became a leader for racial equality and opposition to the Vietnam War. And he changed how athletes dealt with the media and how the media dealt with athletes.

3. Jim Brown

Some still think he is the greatest football player ever. Although he retired in his prime at age 30 in 1966, Brown remains one of the strongest voices in the African-American community and continues to work with young people in life-skills and anti-gang campaigns.

4. Jesse Owens

Not only an inspiration for African-Americans but for all Americans when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics in front of Hitler and his idea the blacks and the rest of the world were inferior to his “master race.”

5. Joe Louis

One of boxing’s greatest fighters, Louis is best remembered for losing and then coming back to defeat German Max Schmeling in 1938 – before America’s eventual involvement against Nazi Germany in World War II. Legendary sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once wrote that Louis was “a credit to his race – the human race.”

6. Michael Jordan

Quite possibly the best and most famous athlete of any color to ever live. His talent combined with his charisma, intelligence and business savvy made him, perhaps, the most marketable athlete ever. The sports landscape – particularly how players are used to pitch products – changed forever because of Jordan.  Now the majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats; Jordan continues to have a billion dollar empire by being one of the only athletes whose name sells more than those still playing the game.

7. Wilma Rudolph

Classy track and field star won three gold medals at 1960 Olympics and became the chief reason why young black girls took up track and field in the generations to follow – an influence that remains strong to this day.

8. John Carlos/Tommy Smith

At the 1968 Olympics, these two track stars raised black-gloved fists during the U.S. national anthem at their medal ceremony to protest, in part, the poverty and treatment of black people in America. It brought the issue of race and discrimination into living rooms throughout the world in one of the most powerful demonstrations in sports history.

9. Arthur Ashe

Ashe, the only African-American man to win Wimbledon, was a staunch civil-rights supporter not only in America but internationally, including anti-apartheid causes in South Africa and the fight for rights of undocumented immigrants in the United States. He raised awareness of AIDS before he died in 1993 from complications of the virus contracted after a blood transfusion.

10. Hank Aaron

Despite death threats and harassment from racists, Hammerin’ Hank showed grace and class while breaking the Major League Baseball home run record held by Babe Ruth. To this day, Aaron continues to work as a baseball executive and ambassador to fight for the rights of minorities, particularly among baseball’s front offices.

11. Curt Flood

Comparing baseball’s reserve clause to slavery, this St. Louis Cardinals outfielder refused to accept a trade after the 1969 season. Although he lost his case in the U.S. Supreme Court, his groundbreaking objection led players to fight the reserve clause and eventually gain free-agency rights.

12. Tony Dungy

The first African-American coach to win the Super Bowl remains socially active and is out front on the causes of African-Americans, faith and family. One of the most beloved figures in sports because of his humility, class, honesty and lifestyle. You can catch Dungy talking sports for NBC, or at the signing of one of his latest motivational books.

13. Don King

One of sports’ most controversial figures, yet there is no denying this hair-raising promoter has had more influence over professional boxing than any other figure during the past 40 years. His influence over the days when fighters such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman were at the top of the sport ultimately led to today’s massive purses and pay-per-view events.

14. Althea Gibson

Called “the Jackie Robinson of tennis” for breaking that sport’s color barrier, she won five Grand Slam events in the late 1950s. She went on to be a champion of youth sports programs and other areas of public service.

15. Tiger Woods

On his way to becoming the greatest golfer ever, Woods, whose father was black, single-handedly has made the sport, once followed almost exclusively by middle- to upper-class white society, popular among all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.  Woods has recently been derailed with mounting public opinion, which has resulted in a failed marriage, dropping sponsors and an inconsistent golf game. Hopefully Woods will be able to make a comeback in 2011.

16. Magic Johnson

Helped revive the NBA and make it as popular as it is today. More important, became one of the first openly HIV-positive celebrities/athletes and has since become a leading voice and contributor in HIV/AIDS prevention, safe sex and other social causes.  Since the NBA, Johnson has turned into an exceptional businessman owning everything from restaurants, to banks, to Starbucks coffee shops.  Recently, Johnson caught headlines when he sold his shares of the Los Angeles Lakes to put money into bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.

17. Jack Johnson

The first African-American to win the heavyweight boxing title. His victory over James Jeffries on July4, 1910, sparked race riots through the country. Once called the most famous and most infamous African-American on Earth.

18. Jackie Joyner-Kersee

A six-time Olympic medalist, including three golds, in track and field. And she scored more than 1,000 points in basketball for UCLA. Simply put, probably the greatest female athlete of all time. And she did it without the performance-enhancing drugs that have ravaged track and field.

19. Harlem Globetrotters

Founded in 1927, this predominantly black team has entertained crowds of all colors, races, religions and nationalities with its unique brand of basketball that mixes incredible skill and hilarious shenanigans. The team has played more than 20,000 games in more than 100 countries and remains a top draw wherever it goes.

20. Robert Johnson

The founder of BET (Black Entertainment Network) became the first African-American to own a major sports franchise when he led the group that acquired the expansion Charlotte Bobcats in 2004. Johnson has since sold his stock in the team to another amazing African-American and former NBA player, Michael Jordan.

 Your JGF,

 Marcelle E.

*some information is courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times

About The Author

85 Comments

  1. compare prices bags

    I impressed reading your article. Keep the good job but Ill be in touch. Lookin’ forward

    Reply
  2. Edgar Thibert

    Hey guys what a blog eh? I love this site. Just wanted to say thanks for the post and if anyone has time come check out mine will ya? Thanks have a great day!

    Reply
  3. swissdent

    Hey,, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up the good work!

    Reply
  4. school talent show

    Priceless information. Will check back very often for more awesome articles like this one.

    Reply
  5. SEO Services

    This post is great. Thank you for this post. I like this type of people who share knowledge with others.

    Reply
  6. Divorce

    How long did it take you to write this? This is Absolutely fantastic.

    Reply
  7. girls gone wilder

    greetings, I just wanted to comment and say that I was really impressed with your blog. Keep up the good work! You are a really talented writer and it shows

    Reply
  8. spying camera

    I wanted to thank you for this great read. Your blog is one of the finest blog . Thanks for posting this informative article.I like your post & I will always be coming frequently to read more of your post. Thank you very much for your post once more.

    Reply
  9. Nigel Marold

    Pretty excellent. Just book marked ws sign it on delicious, wished to say thanks to an individual with regard to this wonderful post

    Reply
  10. cheap seo services

    Hello there! I really enjoy reading your blog! If you keep making such great posts I will come back every day to keep reading!

    Reply
  11. Buy Links

    Your thoughts and opinions help me see the light. Thanks.

    Reply
  12. Squirrel Feeder

    This is sweet stuff, its great to be in the know.

    Reply
  13. spy cameras

    Thanks a lot for sharing these information. The plan picture has also helped a lot. Look forward to your next post.

    Reply
  14. Rapidshare Search

    First of all I care for the quality of your post. That was interesting to read and helpful article. And Im lookin’ forward to see your next thinks.

    Reply
  15. Lawerence Randrup

    You built some beneficial details there. I did a look for within the matter and observed most folks will consent with your webpage.

    Reply
  16. pinball

    This is such a wonderful resource you happen to be presenting and you give it away at no cost. I enjoy experiencing sites which fully understand the significance of providing a good resource for free.

    Reply
  17. health and fitness information

    The catchy blog with the interesting contents. You give the nice information that many people don’t know before. most of your contents are make me have more knowledge. it is very different. I was impressed with your blog. Never be bored to visit your website again. Have the nice day.Keep enjoyed your blogging.

    Reply
  18. Forex Robots

    Good for U. I think its one of the most informative post in this theme. Lookin’ forward.

    Reply
  19. autism symptoms

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    Reply
  20. camgirl

    Enjoying your blog.

    Reply
  21. English Skype

    I was honestly amazed with how well this blog was done, beautiful layout, professional writing, great job! 🙂

    Reply
  22. Matt Tafuri

    Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

    Reply
  23. fat burning furnace review

    After enjoying this, I can not help but consider on every bit of fact. You have accomplished your task and sent the message across well. I am sure to keep returning to read more.

    Reply
  24. Backlink Building

    Finally a blog that didnt contradict it self, amazing writing. 🙂

    Reply
  25. Backlink Building

    Finally a blog that didnt contradict it self, amazing writing. 🙂

    Reply
  26. PornTube

    You guys really seem to know your stuff this blog of information was very useful.:)

    Reply
  27. PornTube

    You guys really seem to know your stuff this blog of information was very useful.:)

    Reply
  28. 外遇

    I personally believe there is a knowlege to writing articles that only a few posses and frankly you have it , you genius;

    Reply
  29. 外遇

    I personally believe there is a knowlege to writing articles that only a few posses and frankly you have it , you genius;

    Reply
  30. Kathlyn Guinn

    This weblog seems to get a good ammount of visitors. How do you promote it? It gives a nice unique spin on things. I guess having something useful or substantial to talk about is the most important factor.

    Reply
  31. Kathlyn Guinn

    This weblog seems to get a good ammount of visitors. How do you promote it? It gives a nice unique spin on things. I guess having something useful or substantial to talk about is the most important factor.

    Reply
  32. cheap software

    Important information for me. Thanks for really competent informative article. Ill be in touch with U

    Reply
  33. cheap software

    Important information for me. Thanks for really competent informative article. Ill be in touch with U

    Reply
  34. ptz ip camera

    This has definitely sparked up an thought in my thoughts. That is a amazing web site submit.

    Reply
  35. ptz ip camera

    This has definitely sparked up an thought in my thoughts. That is a amazing web site submit.

    Reply
  36. wrinkle serum

    Interesting read, perhaps the best article iv’e browse today. We learn everyday cheers to you!

    Reply
  37. wrinkle serum

    Interesting read, perhaps the best article iv’e browse today. We learn everyday cheers to you!

    Reply
  38. cheap seo services

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    Reply
  39. cheap seo services

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    Reply
  40. cheap seo services

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    Reply
  41. buy cheap Amoxil

    You gave tremendous positive points there. I did a search on the topic and found most peoples will agree with your blog.

    Reply
  42. buy cheap Amoxil

    You gave tremendous positive points there. I did a search on the topic and found most peoples will agree with your blog.

    Reply
  43. buy cheap Amoxil

    You gave tremendous positive points there. I did a search on the topic and found most peoples will agree with your blog.

    Reply
  44. Cordell Oransky

    This will be the primary web site I read on my new Iphone. Ill be back.

    Reply
  45. Cordell Oransky

    This will be the primary web site I read on my new Iphone. Ill be back.

    Reply
  46. Cordell Oransky

    This will be the primary web site I read on my new Iphone. Ill be back.

    Reply
  47. foretagsresor

    keep up the great work on the blog. Do like it! :p Could use some more frequent updates, but i’m sure that you got better stuff to do like we all have to do unfortunately. =p

    Reply
  48. foretagsresor

    keep up the great work on the blog. Do like it! :p Could use some more frequent updates, but i’m sure that you got better stuff to do like we all have to do unfortunately. =p

    Reply
  49. zero friction marketing

    You completed a number of fine points there. I did a search on the theme and found mainly folks will go along with with your blog.

    Reply
  50. zero friction marketing

    You completed a number of fine points there. I did a search on the theme and found mainly folks will go along with with your blog.

    Reply
  51. zero friction marketing

    You completed a number of fine points there. I did a search on the theme and found mainly folks will go along with with your blog.

    Reply
  52. sikis izle

    I can tell that I loved this article 🙂 I shall come back and check others. I bookmarked it.

    Reply
  53. sikis izle

    I can tell that I loved this article 🙂 I shall come back and check others. I bookmarked it.

    Reply
  54. sikis izle

    I can tell that I loved this article 🙂 I shall come back and check others. I bookmarked it.

    Reply
  55. Joesph Minor

    Very interesting entry, I look forward to the next!

    Reply
  56. Joesph Minor

    Very interesting entry, I look forward to the next!

    Reply
  57. Joesph Minor

    Very interesting entry, I look forward to the next!

    Reply
  58. Duphaston

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

    Reply
  59. Duphaston

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

    Reply
  60. Duphaston

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

    Reply
  61. whois domain

    Awsome blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

    Reply
  62. whois domain

    Awsome blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

    Reply
  63. russian brides free

    I found your Article in Google . Thank you for your information, I’ve been looking for this info for a long time to do my report

    Reply
  64. russian brides free

    I found your Article in Google . Thank you for your information, I’ve been looking for this info for a long time to do my report

    Reply
  65. russian brides free

    I found your Article in Google . Thank you for your information, I’ve been looking for this info for a long time to do my report

    Reply
  66. IP lookup

    I’m happy to determine other folks taking project and giving towards the community

    Reply
  67. IP lookup

    I’m happy to determine other folks taking project and giving towards the community

    Reply
  68. IP lookup

    I’m happy to determine other folks taking project and giving towards the community

    Reply
  69. vimax

    Love your post . Really
    xyxytodwhy.2011

    Reply
  70. vimax

    Love your post . Really
    xyxytodwhy.2011

    Reply
  71. Luigi Fulk

    Very quaint text. I have been looking for such tips. I like your original style and wish you will publish more frequently.

    Reply
  72. Luigi Fulk

    Very quaint text. I have been looking for such tips. I like your original style and wish you will publish more frequently.

    Reply
  73. NFL JERSEYS

    Spot on with this write-up, I really assume this website wants way more consideration. I’ll probably be again to learn much more, thanks for that info.

    Reply
  74. NFL JERSEYS

    Spot on with this write-up, I really assume this website wants way more consideration. I’ll probably be again to learn much more, thanks for that info.

    Reply

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This