Left: Archery champion, Marjorie Capeheart shown in the Feb. 8, 1941 edition of the paper.; Center: The August 27, 1949 edition of the AFRO American Newspapers featured coverage of everything from the Negro Baseball League updates to information on 19-year-old Oscar Johnson’s win at the New York State Open tennis competition. Right: In 1948 the AFRO covered the integration of the Boston University hockey team, which gave a spot on the ice to the first African-American hockey player on a college team, Lloyd Robinson.

By Fatiha Belfakir,
Special to the AFRO

For centuries sports have been an essential part of African-American culture. The role of athletics in the Black community is crucial, as some Black youths- like many of every race- perceive sports as one way of seeking self-identity and belonging. 

While today’s athletes enjoy a range of freedoms and privileges on American soil, the road to equality and opportunity has been marred by prejudice. Though many Black athletes achieved fame and fortunes in their respective industries, many more remained trapped between racial prejudice and stereotype, which paralyzed their participation in sports events and competitions. 

To combat the effects of Jim Crow in the sports industry, AFRO News reporters persisted in their coverage of sports, segregation in the major leagues and the equal treatment of Black athletes at every turn.

With sports editor Samuel Harold Lacy onboard, the AFRO American Newspaper delivered rich sports coverage, recording and documenting the history of popular and lesser-known sports in the United States of America. 

Lacy, a reporter, a columnist, and a television and radio commentator devoted nine decades to covering Black sports in an era of struggle and segregation. His coverage came at a time where competing and participating in sport games were a dream for most Black men and women. 

The legendary reporter constantly fought systematic racism in the athletic world and successfully brought African-American players and coaches out of the shadows. 

With a clear vision, sports’ articles from AFRO editions of yesteryear vary in terms of content.   The publication can be seen saluting and documenting Black athletes’ accomplishments-  fundamental in preserving Black sports history for generations to come. 

The AFRO American Newspapers covered events honoring athletes such as Leon Bailey, the first African American to integrate the Navy wrestling team, basketball icon Muggsy Bogues, and Erin Jackson, the first Black woman to win speed skating gold. 

The AFRO has long covered the cross over between the political realm and the athletic world. From Muhammad Ali’s refusal to submit to the Vietnam draft to the plight of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner, recently sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison on drug charges– the AFRO 

has continued the tradition of reporting from the intersection of politics and athletics. 

The paper has committed to history the struggles and achievements of Baltimore’s female golfers in their fight against segregation, while also covering the triumphs of local youth and college leagues.

And still today, the game is on! Check out the AFRO Archives today to learn more about your favorite athletes and find out how your beloved teams have fared over time.

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