UC Berkeley Library

African American Sports

Body and Soul. Part 1, Body

An examination of Negro contributions to sports in America. Racial tensions on college and pro teams, and the threat of an Olympic boycott in 1968, suggest that the sports world is not as integrated as some people think. Interviews with sports figures bring up questions about the fairness of treatment that Negro athletes have received from their managers, spectators and country. A CBS News production, 1968. [preservation copy]

Hoop Dreams.

This dramatization of the true life story of Arthur Agee and William Gates follows the high school careers of these two young men from inner-city Chicago as they pursue their dream of playing professional basketball. 1994. 176 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie DatabaseSee separate bibliography of reviews and articles about this film

Only the Ball Was White.

Traces the history of the Negro Leagues through photographs, film footage and interviews with the ball players. Discusses the era when major U.S. baseball leagues refused to hire black athletes, thereby denying them potential stardom by the color line. 30 min.

Reaching the Finish Line: Black Athletes and Civil Rights.

This program evaluates the societal contributions of Afro-American sports greats Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Toni Stone, Willie O'Ree, Arthur Ashe and other sports icons who, with commitment and perseverance, broke the color barrier in professional athletics, paving the way for later civil rights victories. Commentary: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Isaacs, Charlie Sifford, Don Newcombe, Buck O'Neil, Rachel Robinson, Willie O'Ree, Dusty Baker, Mamie Johnson, Donald Dell. Dist.: Films Media Group. c1999. 32 min.

The Black Athlete.

Features archival films of early Black athletes, and interviews with prominent Black athletes and coaches. Raises questions about the status of Black people in the American culture. 58 min.

The Harlem Globetrotters: 6 Decades of Magic

Honored for their unique skills as athletes and entertainers, this relates the story of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, from their founding to the present. Includes highlights of their notable players, their experiences as African American athletes, as well as the world wide humanitarian efforts of the Globetrotter organization. 1988. 60 min.

The Journey of the African-American Athlete.

African-American athletes today are much-loved heroes in American sports, but this has not always been true. In the past, many black athletes faced crushing racial discrimination, were rejected by their fellow competitors and fans, and had to wage a lifetime struggle to achieve equality on the playing field. Captured here are some of the Afro-American greats who led the way. 1996. 119 min.

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

The in-depth and intimate story of one of the most important African Americans to live in the first half of the 20th century. Tells the story of Jack Johnson, who was the first African American boxer to win the most coveted title in all of sports - Heavyweight Champion of the World. Includes his struggles in and out of the ring and his desire to live his life as a free man. Directed by Ken Burns. Dist.: PBS. 2005. 220 min.

We Were Kings

In 1974, Muhammad Ali made what some thought would be his last title bid to regain the heavyweight boxing championship, stripped from him years before. Fight promoters offered him five million dollars to come to Zaire to fight George Foreman, a young and seemingly unbeatable opponent. Then, as the world watched, Ali took center ring, pulling off a stunning upset. Film includes an interview with director Leon Gast, on the making of the film. 1996. 94 min.