The Celtics have played an integral role in the Civil Rights movement dating back to the 1950s.
In 1950, the Celtics became the first NBA team to draft an African American player when they selected Chuck Cooper in the second round. In 1966, Bill Russell became the first African American coach in North American professional sports when he took over the reins from Red Auerbach.
In honor of Black History Month the Celtics host an annual event with local students to celebrate our nation’s rich African American History, culminating with bringing the young scholars to a Celtics game in February.
Black History Month Events
February 3, 2014 - Celtics Honor African American Leaders at Event
On February 3, 2014, the Celtics banded together with the Massachusetts Army National Guard for their annual Black History Month event honoring the monumental actions of African American leaders of our nation.
Celebrating the Big Four
Fifty-eight years ago, four gentlemen changed the face of the NBA. Chuck Cooper, Earl Lloyd, Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton and Hank DeZonie became the NBA's first black players and pioneers of the sport. In 1947, baseball legend Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier as the first black Major League Baseball player, and three years later Cooper, Lloyd, Clifton, and DeZoine did the same in professional basketball.
Click here to download the Cetics Black History Educational Crossword for use in the classroom and at home!
Key Moments in Modern African American History
- In 2001, Colin Powell became the first African American to be head of America’s armed forces.
- In 2002, Vonetta Flowers became the first African American to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics.
- In 2005, Condoleezza Rice became the first black female Secretary of State.
- In 2007, Deval Patrick became the first African American elected Governor in the state of Massachusetts.
- In 2007, Tony Dungy became the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl when the Colts defeated the Chicago Bears on Feb 4, 2007.
- In 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American President-Elect.
- In 2009, six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
- In 2009, Barack Obama became the first African-American president and the country's 44th president.
- In 2013, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African American U.S. President elected to a second term.
Boston Historical Sites
- Visit the Black Heritage Trail which begins at the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial on Beacon Street in Boston Common.
- Visit the Museum of African American History.
"Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."
- Booker T. Washington
"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
- Harriet Tubman
"Each person must live their life as a model for others."
- Rosa Parks
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Maya Angelou
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
- Frederick Douglass
"A man can make what he wants of himself if he truly believes that he must be ready for hard work and many heartbreaks."
- Thurgood Marshall
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
- Martin Luther King Jr.