The Black Athlete in West Virginia

High School and College Sports from 1900 Through the End of Segregation


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About the Book

This chronicle of sports at West Virginia’s 40 black high schools and three black colleges illuminates many issues in race relations and the struggle for social justice within the state and nation. Despite having inadequate resources, the black schools’ sports teams thrived during segregation and helped tie the state’s scattered black communities together. West Virginia hosted the nation’s first state-wide black high school basketball tournament, which flourished for 33 years, and both Bluefield State and West Virginia State won athletic championships in the prestigious Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association (now Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association). Black schools were gradually closed after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, and the desegregation of schools in West Virginia was an important step toward equality. For black athletes and their communities, the path to inclusion came with many costs.

About the Author(s)

Bob Barnett is a professor emeritus at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, where he taught classes in and researched sport history for 35 years and served as chair of the Division of Exercise Science, Sport and Recreation. He was inducted into the West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academic Hall of Fame in 2010 for his groundbreaking research on the West Virginia black high school’s basketball tournament.

Dana Brooks is the dean and professor emeritus in the College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. He was at West Virginia University for 41 years and was a former president of the American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (2009-2010). His research interest focus on the African American athletes’ experience.

Ronald Althouse is a professor emeritus in the department of sociology and anthropology at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia where he was the director of the survey research center. He contributed to the literature on athletic participation.

Bibliographic Details

Bob Barnett, Dana Brooks and Ronald Althouse

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7897-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3875-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction by Bob Barnett 5

Part I. School and College Segregation in West Virginia, 1863–1954 9
1. African Americans in West Virginia, 1860–1969 11
2. Intercollegiate Sports in the Black Colleges, 1900–1954 20
3. The First Black State High School Basketball Tournament in the United States, 1925–1944 42
4. Earl Lloyd and the Golden Age of West Virginia State University Basketball, 1945–1954 57
5. The Legacy of Black High School Basketball 77

Part II. The Integration of West Virginia’s High Schools and Colleges, 1954–1964 99
6. Integrating Small Colleges 101
7. From Hal Greer to Randy Moss: The Integration of Marshall University Sports 120
8. Two Historically Black Colleges Join the White Intercollegiate Conference 142
9. Black High Schools in the White Basketball Tournament, 1957–1969 155
10. From Dick Leftridge to Major Harris: A Call for Sports Advocacy at WVU 173

Epilogue 195
Appendix: Pioneers in the Integration of College Sports in West Virginia 197
Chapter Notes 201
Bibliography 215
Index 221

Book Reviews & Awards

• “The Black Athlete in West Virginia is an original and significant contribution to the history of African Americans and school sports, and is especially valuable as it is first such work that covers one state, all the relevant sports, and in both high schools and colleges. This laudable one-state exploration allows the authors to show how West Virginia’s race relations, in particular, presented so many divergences from the norm that occurred in other states. It is voluminously researched, including interviews going back to the 1980s.”—Robert Pruter, author of The Rise of American High School Sports and the Search for Control, 1880-1930

• “Anyone interested in the struggle for civil rights and equality in sport will find The Black Athlete in West Virginia appealing. It is a prototype and has the potential of serving as a template for scholars conducting similar research in other states.”—J. Thomas Jable, past president, North American Society for Sport History

• “Well-researched…This is a strong contribution to sport history, to the history of school desegregation, and to West Virginia history. Anyone with interest in any of these topics should consider this work a top priority.”—The Journal of Sport History