Make history now. That’s the call to action for the Black Fives Foundation—an organization devoted to preserving and teaching the history of all-black basketball teams that emerged and flourished in America before it was a racially integrated professional sport. A motto that promotes the power of collaboration—now living on ’47’s premium headwear and apparel, amongst other historically accurate designs from the Black Fives Era (1904-1950).
’47, a sports lifestyle brand based out of Boston, has a likeminded admiration for history, evident in their namesake as the company was established in 1947. “Our company, our product, everything we do ties back to our history in sports,” says ’47 co-owner, Steven D’Angelo, who owns ’47 with his three brothers and father Arthur, one of two twins who founded the company.
Chicago and its rich culture became a perfect backdrop to share the inspiration behind the collaborative line—the first time a retail product was ever created under license with a not-for-profit organization.
“This whole journey has been about bringing the story and the lessons of the Black Fives back to life,” says Executive Director for the Black Fives Foundation, Claude Johnson. “Bronzeville is a euphemism for all black communities, so we took our story there. Black Fives Era teams made a living but they also played for something bigger—their successes could uplift their neighborhoods and their causes. Today’s players are doing that, so there’s an inspiring relevance to this history.”
Taj Gibson of the Bulls, Bobby Simmons, local artist Swopes and some aspiring ball players meet outside the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Bronzeville, home to the original Globetrotters: The Savoy Big Five circa 1928. An original poem written by Joekenneth Museau and voiceover from Chicago Rapper Lil Bibby capture the impact of the Black Fives in a video collab with SLAM, which you can watch above.
The Black Fives x ’47 Collection is available exclusively at select Lids stores.