Excerpt: Slate On The Segregation Era’s Forgotten Sports Heroes

Courtesy encyclopediaofarkansas.net

It’s not just Arkansas that omits the feats of black high-schoolers who played in segregated schools. In 1956, forward Hubert “Geese” Ausbie of Crescent, Okla., scored 186 points over three consecutive tournament games for all-black Douglas High School. Ausbie, who went on to play the role of the “Clown Prince of Basketball” for the Harlem Globetrotters, recalls averaging from 30 to 40 points a game as a high-schooler. Ausbie’s name, though, isn’t on Oklahoma’s all-time scoring list. (He tells me he should be near the top, in the neighborhood of supposed all-time leader Rotnei Clarke.) And Ausbie isn’t the only former Globetrotter who might be unfairly excluded from the record book. Other possibilities from Oklahoma alone include Marquis Haynes, who helped the Globetrotters defeat the NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers, and twins Lawrence and Lance Cudjoe.

These legends’ absence from the historical record—and their resulting exclusion from news stories about modern-day prep basketball stars—is a direct consequence of the Deep South’s segregationist past. Before the late 1960s, whites played against whites and blacks played against blacks. Arkansas, like many other states, separated its athletics associations by race. In 1967, what had been the all-white association incorporated its black counterpart, and what’s now the Arkansas Activities Association was born. This merger, though, was not accompanied by the integration of the state record book.

- From “Integrate The Record Books,” by Evin Demirel