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January 23, 1947
Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

January 23, 1947

On January 23, 1947, the Los Angeles Sentinel promoted an upcoming visit from the Harlem Globetrotters (click to view PDF). Founded in Chicago in the late 1920s, the Globetrotters toured the country and the world playing exhibition games in which they mixed basketball skills with comedy. The Harlem Globetrotters were joined on their barnstorming tour by Jesse Owens’ Kansas City Stars, the All-Hawaii Stars, and the House of David, a bearded team from a religious sect in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

The Globetrotters’ visit to Los Angeles came shortly after the formation of the National Basketball Association in 1946. In 1950, Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, and Nat Clifton became the first black players in the NBA. The league’s process of integration was slow, with teams reluctant to have more than a couple of black players on their rosters. This made barnstorming teams like the Globetrotters important for talented black players and for fans who wanted to see more up tempo and flashy basketball. 

On the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, see Ben Green’s Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters (2005).