Join us for special insights into local history! This panel presentation will be moderated by retired University of Kansas American Studies Professor Bill Tuttle, with former players James Barnes, Leonard Monroe, and Verner Newman. The players will share personal stories of playing high school basketball in a separate league.
From the 1920s -1950, Lawrence, Kansas, had an all-black high school basketball team called the Promoters. This team won its league championship twice and twice tied for first place. The Promoters had its own pep club, the Red Peppers, and three female cheerleaders. In the highly segregated society of that time it wasn't easy for the Promoters to even exist.
The high school administration did not allow the team to use its basketballs or to practice during the day. In order to play, the team rode the Lawrence Rapid Transit and played teams in Kansas City and other area cities. As the team members traveled they were refused service in restaurants and were forced to eat in the homes of opponent's parents.
That the team managed to exist for nearly thirty years demonstrates the fortitude and creativity of its African American team members as well as the support it received from black and white coaches, the players’ families and the black community. The team succeeded and excelled despite racial discrimination and segregation.
The Promoters' story is an amazing history filled with harsh discrimination and interracial goodwill. The enduring commitment of players and their families provided young black athletes from Lawrence, Kansas, opportunities to shine in the sports world during a difficult time period in American history. When the high school basketball team was integrated in 1950, the Promoters disbanded.
The program is free to the public.