New York Rens 100th Anniversary Harlem Court Repainting

April 4, 2024

Public Outdoor Basketball Court At Howard Bennett Playground On West 135th Street To Be Repainted and Refurbished To Honor Legendary Team.

Background

Formed 100 years ago, in 1923, the New York Rens were the first Black-owned, all-Black, fully professional basketball team in history. This Harlem-based squad won 85% of its games with 150-game schedules from 1923 to 1949, the equivalent of an NBA team winning 70 games a season for  25 years in a row.

Yet, there was nothing in Harlem to celebrate this legendary Hall of Fame team! Until now! 


What We’re Doing

Funding from this campaign will enable the proper acknowledgment of the legendary New York Rens basketball team in Harlem, their home locale, by re-painting and refurbishing the outdoor basketball court at Howard Bennett Playground on West 135th Street in Harlem. The court re-opening ribbon cutting is planned for June 2024.

In addition, we will conduct educational programming with PS 197 John B. Russwurm Elementary School, which is adjacent to the playground court, and other local schools.


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The Black Fives Foundation (BFF) is working closely with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, the NYC Parks & Recreation Department, and the NYC Department of Education to bring this initiative to life in Harlem.

This project has supporters not only from the surrounding neighborhood and the Harlem community but also from around the country and around the world. We all want the New York Rens Walk of Fame to be a lasting, educational, inspirational, and celebratory commemoration possible as a local, national, and worldwide historical destination. 

Howard Bennett Playground's basketball court faces West 135th Street in Harlem with Harlem Hospital in the background.

Howard Bennett Playground’s basketball court faces West 135th Street in Harlem with Harlem Hospital in the background.

At the announcement event at Howard Bennett Playground, students and staff from PS 197 pose with Manhattan Deputy Borough President Keisha Sutton-James, NYC Parks staffers Mary Mimran and Zoe Pottinger, New York Rens descendants Ron Carson (nephew of Spencer Hill) and Lauren Myers (grand-niece of Zack Clayton), and SLAM Media CFO Miguel Batista, as well as award-winning author and Black Fives founder Claude Johnson. (Photo: Charles Wade)

At the announcement event at Howard Bennett Playground, students and staff from PS 197 pose with Manhattan Deputy Borough President Keisha Sutton-James, NYC Parks staffers Mary Mimran and Zoe Pottinger, New York Rens descendants Ron Carson (nephew of Spencer Hill) and Lauren Myers (grand-niece of Zack Clayton), and SLAM Media CFO Miguel Batista, as well as award-winning author and Black Fives founder Claude Johnson. (Photo: Charles Wade)

YOUR HELP

Help make these lasting, educational, inspirational, and celebratory commemorations possible as local, national, and worldwide historical destinations. Please donate.

COST

This will cost $50,000, which we originally aimed to raise over the next 10 months, but that goal is already exceeded!

However, we have other related initiatives that need just as much support! Please take a look! To make them a reality, we need additional financial support from generous individual, community, and corporate donors.

Please donate. This is your chance to Make History Now! Join two other campaigns if you can Rens100bench and the Rens100walk. Thanks so much!

The Black Fives Foundation 

The Greenwich, CT-based Black Fives Foundation (BFF) is a public charity that is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to BFF are tax deductible in the U.S.A. under Section 170 of the Code. Our Federal Tax ID # is 46-1925488. A copy of our IRS tax exemption determination letter is available upon request. Our mission is to inspire excellence by preserving, teaching, and honoring the pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball, a period known as the Black Fives Era that lasted from the early 1900s to 1950 when the NBA signed its first Black players. We advocate for expanding Black history education to amplify and include this important history, utilizing nearly 1,000 related artifacts in our historical archive as well as a portfolio of related intellectual property and other difference-making initiatives. For more information about the Black Fives Foundation and this important history, please visit www.blackfives.org.


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