Black History Trailblazers of the 1950s: Chuck Cooper, The Basketball MVP

In our ongoing celebration of Black History Month, we look back at some of the leaders, icons, and pop culture juggernauts that helped to bring diversity, equity, inclusion and representation to the forefront of the American landscape — like these men and women who left their indelible mark on the 1950s.


On April 25, 1950, a forward from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh changed the sporting world forever when he was drafted to the Boston Celtics. But it wasn’t Chuck Cooper’s place in the draft or the amount he would be paid that made headlines in 1950. It was the color of his skin. In a fact that seems almost incomprehensible today, Cooper was the first Black man ever brought into the National Basketball Association’s world of professional athletics.

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