COLUMBUS SALLEY, an accomplished historian and author, ranks the most influential 100 Black people in America in his book The BLACK 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential African-Americans Past and Present. Among the 100 are 14 who have exhibited extraordinary athletic prowess in their life experience.
The REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. is Salley’s top among his “most influential.” The Black 100 is a look at the continuous struggle, roughly from 1619 to 1992. Eighty-one men and 21 women are listed and ranked as defined by Dr. Salley.
He says that “Black influentials are those who by their individual or institutional personas and efforts have had the greatest influence on Americans of African descent in their struggle for full economic, political, and social equality in American life; and who have influenced nonblack people to alter their institutions or practices toward Blacks, so as to accept their demands for equality.”
This is not to agree or disagree with author Salley, but to get us to think about others who may have contributed, especially since 1992. It is also to cite people whose fame may have come from their contributions through their athletic prowess and ability. This is also to add the names of others who deserve consideration.
The African Americans listed, including those with an athletics background, are in Dr. Salley’s order of influence: REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., FREDERICK DOUGLASS, BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, W.E.B. DUBOIS, CHARLES H. HOUSTON, RICHARD ALLEN and ABSALOM JONES, PRINCE HALL, SAMUEL E. CORNISH and JOHN RUSSWURM, DAVID WALKER, NAT TURNER, JAMES FORTEN, HARRIET TUBMAN, MARTIN R. DELANY, HENRY H. GARNET, SOJOURNER TRUTH, BENJAMIN BANNEKER, CRISPUS ATTUCKS, PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR, PHILLIS WHEATLEY, P.B.S. PINCHBACK, MARCUS GARVEY, THURGOOD MARSHALL, MALCOLM X, PAUL ROBESON, CARTER G. WOODSON, JAMES WELDON JOHNSON, GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER, WILLIAM M. TROTTER, IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT, MADAME C.J. WALKER, A. PHILIP RANDOLPH, WALTER F. WHITE, ROY WILKINS, LANGSTON HUGHES, MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, ALAIN LOCKE, CLAUDE MCKAY, E. FRANKLIN FRAZIER, HENRY MCNEAL TURNER, MORDECAI JOHNSON, ROBERT ABBOTT, JACKIE ROBINSON, ADAM CLAYTON POWELL, JR., MARY CHURCH TERRELL, JOHN H. JOHNSON, JESSE JACKSON, ALEX HALEY, JAMES BALDWIN, RICHARD WRIGHT, ELIJAH MUHAMMAD, ZORA NEALE HURSTON, BENJAMIN E. MAYS, MUHAMMAD ALI, ARTHUR SCHOMBURG, JESSE OWENS, CHARLES R. DREW, JOHN HOPE, BAYARD RUSTIN, T. THOMAS FORTUNE, DOROTHY I. HEIGHT, BILL COSBY, JACK JOHNSON, GWENDOLYN BROOKS, ANDREW YOUNG, RALPH ABERNATHY, DUKE ELLINGTON, LOUIS ARMSTRONG, SHIRLEY CHISHOLM, RALPH BUNCHE, JOE LOUIS, LERONE BENNETT, JR., TONI MORRISON, JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN, FANNIE LOU HAMER, KENNETH B. CLARK, LORRAINE HANSBERRY, BENJAMIN HOOKS, LEON SULLIVAN, LOUIS FARRAKHAN, OSCAR MICHEAUX, CARL ROWAN, BILL GRAY, KATHERINE DUNHAM, MAYA ANGELOU, EARL GRAVES, HANK AARON, DICK GREGORY, OPRAH WINFREY, RON KARENGA, RUBY DEE and OSSIE DAVIS, HARRY BELAFONTE, MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN, MARIAN ANDERSON, COLIN POWELL, AUGUST WILSON, CLARENCE THOMAS, ARTHUR ASHE, BLACK POWER and ROSA PARKS
These are the seven athletes, and their rankings, who made Dr. Salley’s list: Jackie Robinson (42), Muhammad Ali (54), Jesse Owens (56), Jack Johnson (63), Joe Louis (71), Hank Aaron (87) and Arthur Ashe (98).
Part 2 in this column series (April 14-20) will look at how the Black experience in sports contributed the advancement of the Black community. Part 3 (April 21-27) will look at other Black athletes whose actions and deeds aided the overall Black community.
Inner City All-Star Classic June 19
The 18th annual Inner City Classic will be held at the new Anderson Sports Complex at St. Thomas University, St. Paul on Sunday, June 19. The women will play at 2 pm and the men will play at 4 pm.
Kwame McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-646-3441. His “SPNN Sports Rapp” can be viewed on St. Paul Cable Channel 19, M-F at 10 am, 4 pm and 11 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am.