HARLEM, N.Y., Dec. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Black Fives Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to research, preserve, showcase, teach, and honor the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball, announces the launch of its 2023 “RENS100” centennial celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the legendary New York Rens®. Founded in 1923, the Rens (aka New York Renaissance) were the first Black-owned, all-Black, fully professional basketball team in history.
The Foundation also unveiled its official RENS100™ centennial emblem and shared plans for initiatives that will be staged throughout 2023 with families, athletes, partners, ambassadors, and community organizations.
The RENS100 centennial celebration will raise awareness about this vital history and its pioneering players, teams, and contributors as well as the significance of their achievements.
“The New York Rens were the most accomplished African American team during the Black Fives Era of basketball, and we are excited to celebrate and honor their legacy with our partners,” said Claude Johnson, founder and executive director of the Black Fives Foundation.
With the BIG EAST, the Foundation will launch the Black Fives Academy, a teach-the-teacher program that instructs how to present Black Fives basketball history to others, involving all eleven BIG EAST member schools.
“The BIG EAST Conference is honored to continue our partnership with the Black Fives Foundation this season,” said Val Ackerman, Commissioner of the Big East Conference and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer. “Our role as educators, our basketball-centric identity and our commitment to diversity and inclusion combine to provide the perfect platform for us to assist the Foundation in developing the Black Fives Academy. We look forward to amplifying the stories of the pioneers who made history in our school communities and celebrating their enduring impact on the game of basketball.”
Throughout the year, the Foundation’s online museum presented by PUMA will stage New York Rens exhibitions, and PUMA will release new Black Fives collections, including footwear in new commemorative RENS100 shoeboxes.
“Our branding at PUMA is culture-led, and the history of African Americans in basketball is an essential lens not only into the culture of the game but also into Black culture and American culture as a whole,” said Adam Petrick, Chief Brand Officer at PUMA. “Through our long-term partnership with the Black Fives Foundation, we are proud to help bring proper recognition to the once-forgotten but vitally important pre-NBA history of African Americans in the game by celebrating the 100th anniversary of the legendary New York Rens during their centennial year.”
New assortments of Black Fives caps will also be available exclusively at Lids stores and on Lids.com. “Lids is thrilled to partner with the Black Fives Foundation in what is sure to be a magnificent year-long celebration of one of the greatest basketball teams ever,” said Britten Maughan, President of Lids. “We remain committed to uplifting the voices and elevating the leagues, teams, and athletes of decades past who have changed the game for the better. We look forward to helping honor this remarkable group and are excited for the year ahead.”
New styles under the Black Fives brand’s Physical Culture Supply Co. private label will drop exclusively at the Black Fives Online Fan Shop.
Planned community events will include a Rens descendants family reunion, oral history sessions, art and writing contests, panel discussions, commemorations, HBCU activities, youth basketball involvement, and displays of the Black Fives story-telling quilt, “A Black History Masterpiece” by the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, as well as topics from Johnson’s new book, The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era.
“My late great uncle, former New York Rens star and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Zack Clayton, and his Rens teammates, would have been proud to see their contributions honored through this centennial celebration,” said Lauren D. Myers, president of The Myers Group in Philadelphia.
More information; blackfives.org/rens100
PUMA is one of the world’s leading Sports Brands, designing, developing, selling and marketing performance and sport-inspired footwear, apparel and accessories for more than 70 years. The PUMA Group owns the brands PUMA, Cobra Golf and stichd. The company distributes its products in more than 120 countries, employs more than 16,000 people worldwide, and is headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany. www.about.puma.com
Indianapolis-based Lids Sports Group is the largest licensed sports retailer in North America, selling officially licensed and branded fan and fashion-oriented headwear and apparel across North America, Europe and Australia through over 1,500 retail locations. The company operates stores under the Lids, Locker Room by Lids, Fanzz, Yankees Clubhouse Shops, Dodgers Clubhouse, Cardinals Clubhouse, and other nameplates as well as in select Macy’s department stores nationwide. Visit blog.lids.com.
Established in 1979, the New York City-based BIG EAST Conference consists of 11 nationally prominent colleges and universities that foster healthy athletic competition, community service, and the pursuit of excellence in academic environments. The BIG EAST-sponsored athletic programs of our institutions provide national-caliber participation for more than 3,800 student-athletes on over 200 men’s and women’s teams in 22 sports. Located in eight of the country’s top 36 largest media markets, its member schools are Butler University, University of Connecticut, Creighton University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, Marquette University, Providence College, St. John’s University, Seton Hall University, Villanova University and Xavier University. Visit www.bigeast.com
SOURCE The Black Fives Foundation