BY TARYN ST.LOUIS, AUGUST 18th, 2020
African Americans have always been talented, brave warriors, and the best of us deserved their rise to fame. In many cases however, this was frowned upon and our Kings were pushed back into the shadows. Facing segregation and invisible racial barriers that kept them from advancing to stardom, our top hitters had to evoke the spiritual strength of their ancestors if they were to ever claim their right to be recognized among the best.
In 1998, Kim Greene unwittingly inspired her partner to re-engage his passion for creating authentic memorabilia to honor African Americans in the sporting arena who made us proud. She had purchased Negro League baseball items from a company in New York, only to find out later that the logos had been designed by the very person she was purchasing them for. Her partner, Anthony Robinson. This was all the motivation he needed. I mean, seeing your work being bought and sold in any market can definitely strengthen your vision.
Kim and Anthony started their campaign to ensure that only high quality products were presented to represent such a rich and dynamic history as that of the Negro League. It was easy to find Negro League gear, but it would often be presented on low quality material. They both wasted no time in becoming a part of the solution. BWM visited their online boutique at B.L.A.C.K and noticed immediately that their items featured only authentic logos and designs. It wasn’t hard to tell that they were committed to the vision that their company stands for: B.L.A.C.K (Bases Loaded Authentic Clothing and Kaps) “Empowering our Future by Honoring and Preserving our Past.”
Honoring the Negro League
Around the 19th century and before, blacks were prohibited from playing professional baseball in the predominately white major leagues and also the minor leagues. Those who were committed to the sport were left with no other alternative but to form their own leagues.
In 1920, Rube Foster had predicted that if the Negro Leagues maintained a high caliber of performance on the field, the players would be prepared to answer the call when the major leagues were ready to open their doors. By 1947, despite the fact that most of the major-league teams were not ready to accept blacks, Jackie Robinson made his historic walk onto the Dodgers’ Ebbets Field, breaking the color line for good. (via history.net)
Since that historic day, 35 of our top players in baseball have been inducted into the hall of fame, including names that you know;
- Satchel Paige (1971)
- Josh Gibson (1972)
- Buck Leonard (1972)
- Monte Irvin (1973)
See a full list here
B.L.A.C.K honors their legacy by providing the best quality authentic outerwear featuring the logos and designs that preserve their memory.
Honoring the Tuskeegee Airmen
Around the 1920s and 1930s, racial segregation was rampant in the US, and filtered into all segments including the armed forces. Much of the military establishment believed that blacks were inferior to whites and would therefore perform poorly in combat. In many cases they were thought to lack the physical and mental ability to even assist their white counterparts in battle. Young African Americans who aspired to become pilots were facing an uphill climb that seemed insurmountable. How did they overcome these obstacles?
When the US Air Corps (AAC) began ramping up its training program in preparation for looming wars, black newspaper publications joined the NAACP in a campaign to fight for the rights of our young black men to join the armed forces. In September 1940, the then President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, announced that the AAC would soon begin to include black pilots in their training programs. The war department chose the Tuskeegee Army airfield in Tuskeegee Alabama. This is pretty much how our black war heroes got their name.
In 2007, over 300 of the original Tuskeegee airmen received congressional gold medals from George W. Bush. In 2009, the surviving pilots and support crew were specially invited to the inauguration ceremony of the first African American President, Barack Obama.
Authentic, quality clothing and other items to celebrate and honor the legacy of these warriors of the skies can be found in store.
Honoring the Buffalo Soldiers
Following the Civil War of 1865, African American Soldiers were enlisted to serve on the Western Frontier. They were put in place to control Native Americans, capture cattle thieves and protect settlers. The 9th and 10th cavalry regiments were dubbed “buffalo soldiers” by Native Americans. No one knows the reason for this, but you can take a wild guess. It could have had something to do with their appearance, or perhaps their aggression on the battle field. Whatever the cause, the name has transcended time to this day.
The 9th and 10th cavalry were stationed in both Kansas and Texas respectively, and participated in many Indian Wars as America became obsessed with westward expansion. About 20% of US troops that participated in these wars were buffalo soldiers. After having the Indians in check, they were stationed in Florida, during the Spanish American War. They faced blatant racism from their counterparts and superiors and endured brutal weather conditions, but still they endured and were found to be the most courageous in battle.
Get official Buffalo Soldier merchandise on B.L.A.C.K
BWM is inspired by the commitment of this black owned business in honoring our fighters in both the sporting arena and on the battlefield. Not only does the store offer apparel and memorabilia in honor of these men, Kim Greene also produces black baby dolls that are quite unique and lifelike and make wonderful collectors items. What’s not to like about this store?
How B.L.A.C.K gives back
Although Kim and Anthony have encountered their fair share of obstacles, including finding highly qualified manufacturers who share their level of commitment, they press on. They are now seeking to expand their line to include other elements of black military history (Montford Point Marines, Harlem Hellfighters, RedBall Express and Golden 13, to name a few. They endeavor to continue educating the masses on these pieces of history that are not often discussed. Spending time with the people who have actually created this history has been an honor for them and has cemented their goal to educate and uplift as they sell.
The apparel and memorabilia sold in store helps to promote black history and raises funds for and awareness of black historical museums across the USA. They also raise funds for the surviving black history makers.
Their plans are to expand so that they can be an actual funding source for a young entrepreneurial training center and youth scholarship fund for an HBCU. They also hope to open their line to include other black historical organizations that deserve recognition. Did we say we are totally inspired? This definitely looks like a black owned superstore to support!