In its eleventh year, the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame Committee officially established the Tom Hester Female Athlete of the Year Award – eleven years after the passage of Title IX, an Education Amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the amendment made no mention of sports, it had a wide-ranging effect on high school and college athletics as it ended discrimination based on sex by all entities that receive federal funds. Before Title IX, fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school sports, and only 1% of collegiate athletic budgets funded female sports. Academic scholarships for female athletes did not exist. In this context, the young women who were honored at the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame were trail blazers, deserving of every honor and opportunity bestowed to them.
Parts I and II outlined the beginnings of the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame, co-sponsored by Kutania People and The Sportsmen Athletic Club, Inc., and traced the growing popularity of an event that honored outstanding athletes from the San Bernardino area, and raised scholarship funds for college-bound athletes.
Part I outlined the beginnings of the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame, co-sponsored by Kutania People and The Sportsmen Athletic Club, Inc. The joint venture honored outstanding athletes who got their start at high schools and secondary schools in the San Bernardino area, and raised scholarship funds for college-bound athletes.
The San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame was established in 1973 by two organizations – Kutania People and The Sportsmen Athletic Club, Inc. The Sportsmen, led by Leonard Jacks, organized in 1972 and were themselves former San Bernardino area athletes. The group counseled student athletes and worked to develop city and county wide interest in recreation and athletic programs. Kutania People (Swahili for “people helping people”) also formed in 1972 with Wilbur D. Brown as its President. The organization sought to foster the development of young people by offering internship programs and camping experiences. The group also sponsored a Black Art Exhibit and the Black History Queen Pageant amongst other endeavors.
This joint venture set out to honor outstanding athletes who got their start at San Bernardino H.S.s and secondary schools. Between 1973 and 1986, seventy (70) local athletes from football, basketball, baseball and track and field were inducted into the Hall of Fame. In addition, twenty-eight (28) young men and women athletes received Tom Hester Memorial Awards, created in honor of Booker Thomas Hester, Jr., track and football star at San Bernardino H.S. (class of 1962) and in track at Arizona State University. The fundraising event sponsored scholarships for college-bound students and brought a who’s who of Black entertainers, established athletes and personalities to San Bernardino, including boxing promoter Don King and legendary soul singer Marvin Gaye.
The annual San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame is a shining example of Black life in the Inland Empire in the 1970s and 80s. As part of our efforts to preserve this history, we are archiving the San Bernardino Black Athletes Hall of Fame, 1973-1986. As items are digitized, we will tell the story of this event through photos, commemorative brochures, newspaper clippings and other archived materials.