Claude Johnson


Claude Johnson is the founder and C.E.O. of Black Fives, Inc., a vintage sports licensing company which strives to be the world’s leading resource and steward for the research, preservation, education, and promotion of the pre-1950 history of African-American basketball teams, as well as a leading advocate for the proper recognition of its pioneers and their contributions.

This is his first book.

Johnson was born in Vienna, Austria — his father is African American, from the South Side of Chicago, and his mother was German, from the Römerstadt section of Frankfurt am Main. He also lived in Leopoldville in the Republic of the Congo (now Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo) before moving to the United States with his parents at the age of six.

Johnson has held management and executive positions in various disciplines during a 20-year career in corporate America that included IBM, American Express, NBA Properties, Nike, Phat Farm, and Benetton Sportsystem. He has B.S. Civil Engineering and M.S. Mechanical Engineering degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Stanford University, respectively.

Johnson’s insightful, evocative articles and commentaries have been published in SLAM Magazine, Bounce Magazine, and on his own blog at He has appeared on television and radio programs as well as in print, in a variety of venues that include NPR, Sirius Radio, Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal, and ESPN. Johnson is a lecturer and motivational speaker, a trustee of the Greenwich Public Library, an accomplished hobby photographer, and a volunteer youth football coach. The former candidate for the Connecticut State House of Representatives is a concerned parent-citizen when it comes to education and kids’ health.

Johnson, his wife, and their three boys live in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Where to find Claude Johnson online

Where to buy in print


BLACK FIVES: The Alpha Physical Culture Club's Pioneering African American Basketball Team, 1904-1923
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 17,900. Language: English. Published: March 18, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Basketball, Nonfiction » History » American
The Alpha Physical Culture Club's basketball team became famous during the 1910s playing within strict amateur ideals. But times were changing. New black fives dreamed of play-for-pay. Which ideal would prevail? The future of hoops was at stake.

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