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OldestLivingProFootball.com
Site Owner
Posts: 26

 

For years we have been told that there were (13) African-American professional football players between 1920 - 1946. While this is still true, there have been a couple of major changed to that list of 13.

We believe James Alfonso 'Buddy' Turner, who was an African American halfback at Northwestern University in 1922 and that most sources list as one of the "13" black players in the APFA/NFL from 1920 - 1946 and who is listed as playing for the 1923 Milwaukee Badgers was actually Howard Turner from Lombard College, who was white.

 

To read more, click on his name above.

 

Also, Walt Jean. a player on various teams from 1922 - 1927, should be added to this list of early African-American professional football players. To understand why we have added him, click on his name above or below.

 

 

Here is the list of the (13) African American Pro-Football players that played between the years 1920 - 1946.

 

1. Fritz Pollard: Born 01/27/1894 - Died 05/11/1986 (92 years old) NFL HOF

 

2. Bobby 'Rube' Marshall: Born 03/12/1880 - Died 08/27/1958 (78 years old)

 

3. Joe Lillard: Born 06/15/1905 - Died 09/18/1978 (73 years old)

 

4. Ray Kemp: Born 04/07/1907 - Died 03/26/2002 (94 years old)

 

5. Paul Robeson: Born 04/09/1898 - Died 01/23/1976 (77 years old)

 

6. Jay 'Inky' Williams: Born 07/25/1894 - Died 01/02/1980 (85 years old)

 

7. Duke Slater: Born 12/09/1898 - Died 08/14/1966 (67 years old)

 

8. John Shelburne: Born 09/26/1894 - Died 01/29/1978 (83 years old)

 

9. Sol Butler: Born 07/26/1897 - Died 12/01/1954 (57 years old)

 

10. Harold Bradley Sr.: Born 09/27/1905 - Died 11/30/1973 (68 years old)

 

11. David Myers: Born 08/06/1906 - Died 03/05/1997 (90 years old)

 

12. Walter LeArmand LeJean (Walt Jean): Born 01/12/1896 - Died 03/28/1961 (65 years old)

 

13. Dick Hudson: Born unknown - Died unknown, but we are working on it!

 

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January 18, 2015 at 1:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

OldestLivingProFootball.com
Site Owner
Posts: 26

Congratulations Steve!

 

Great job on your findings about Walt Jean, who turns out is the first African American football player for the Green Bay Packers.  Without your expert knowledge and research, this would have never come to light.

 

You are one of the most knowledgeable pro-football historians and you are finally getting the recognition you deserve. It is an honor having you as part of OldestLivingProFootball.com.

 

Check out the article that was written by Cliff Christl, the Green Bay Packers historian on your fascinating research and conclusions.

 

 

Walt Jean - packers.com

 

 

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January 29, 2016 at 1:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

LJP
Member
Posts: 72

Does Chicago Bears (1929-34) & Chicago Cardinals (1935-36) C Bert Pearson belong on the list of African-American football players 1920-1946?


Looking through some old Bears photos, I've noticed a number of Bears players that were of darker complexion than the others. Notably, Carl Brumbaugh & Bert Pearson.


Brumbaugh's immediate family history turned up nothing, his parents and grand-parents are all recorded as white. There are obviously multiple possibilities for a darker complexion.


On to Bert Pearson. His full name was Madison Bertrand Pearson and all sources appear to indicate that he was born in Manhattan, Kansas, on 22 March 1905.

 

However, digging through the census records, only the 1940 US Federal Census indicates his place of birth as Kansas.

 

In 1920 he is living with some of his siblings in Manhattan, although his place of birth is recorded as Georgia.

 

He attended Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan and lettered in football in 1926-28. His brother Zerlindon was also on the football team 1925-26.

 

On the 1910 census he is in Dadeville, Alabama, with his father and siblings (his mother died c1905/06) - https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MKWH-PCX

 

Under race it states Mulatto, which is defined as "a person of mixed white and black ancestry, especially a person with one white and one black parent". His siblings are recorded likewise, whilst his father, Charles Lafayette Pearson (1854-1940), is listed as White.


Some more digging and I found the following blog - http://pearsonamerica.blogspot.co.uk/


It includes a photograph that identifies Bert's elder brother Varlourd (b.1898, back right) and sister Zenia (b.1891, front left). Presumably the two youngsters either side of their father are Zerlindon (b.1902, left) and Bert (b.1905, right)?


The only real question remains is the ancestry and ethnicity of their mother, Zenia Blasengame, who was apparently born in Georgia c1854. I have so far been unable to locate her and the children on the 1900 census. CL Pearson is in Dadeville on his own and is listed as single?


Some photos of Bert -


1931 (at right) - https://www.dropbox.com/s/cpzsc7wyqyksg55/MBP_1931.png


1932 (#26) - https://www.dropbox.com/s/2jeasj8pojerbbj/MBP_1932.png


1934 (#26)  - https://www.dropbox.com/s/e98w08w79hjxdvz/MBP_1934.png


?

January 10, 2017 at 6:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

LJP
Member
Posts: 72

Various family trees have Bert Pearson's mother recorded as Zenia Blasengame or Zenia Vines.

 

Located Zenia Vines (born Jun-1864 Alabama) on the 1900 census in Dadeville, Alabama - https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M96Q-FSJ

 

Recorded as Single, she has four (+1?) of Bert's elder siblings with her, all under the Vines surname. She and her children are all are recorded as black.

 

The 1880, 1900 & 1910 census records for Bert's father (Charles Lafeyette Pearson) in Dadeville all record him as single, so it would appear that they never married. C.L. Pearson was a major land owner, planter & lawyer.

 

The children have the Pearson surname on the 1910 census and beyond.

 

Looks like Bert was born in Dadeville (not Georgia or Kansas) and was mixed race (white father, black mother).

January 11, 2017 at 6:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

LJP
Member
Posts: 72

*Cricket chirp*

January 13, 2017 at 6:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

LJP
Member
Posts: 72

My colorized version of George Burke's 1931 photo of Bert Pearson -

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zi0a8jr69h5p8ji/Bert%20Pearson.png


The skin colour (#ce967c) used in this image is exactly the same colour as I used in another recent image for Bobby Layne in the Lujack, Luckman & Layne photo -

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8f1g5tnu4dcq4f9/JL32.png


Obviously different lighting conditions, camera, well everything really, but the census records clearly indicate he was mixed race. If Walt LeJean belongs on the list, then so should Bert, especially as he played during the time of the exclusion.

February 3, 2017 at 8:12 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Bucko
Member
Posts: 1

I was intrigued that of the 13 black players, only Dick Hudson has no vital info. He is listed in football encyclopedias as having "no college." Although he didn't play football in college, he was attending the University of Minnesota in circa 1923. Having played pro ball with Rock Island and Hammond previously, he was not eligible to play for the Gophers. In 1923, Hudson played fullback with the Liberty-Snyder semi-pro team.prior to joining the Minneapolis Marines.In 1924, he was charged with robbery for trying to hold up a cab, but was acquitted. In the late 1920s, he became a basketball promoter for the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1933 he was a basketball promoter in Chicago, where he lived at the time. After that, the research trail dried up for me.

--

Mel Bashore

April 14, 2017 at 9:09 AM Flag Quote & Reply

steve j
Member
Posts: 177

Bucko at April 14, 2017 at 9:09 AM

I was intrigued that of the 13 black players, only Dick Hudson has no vital info. He is listed in football encyclopedias as having "no college." Although he didn't play football in college, he was attending the University of Minnesota in circa 1923. Having played pro ball with Rock Island and Hammond previously, he was not eligible to play for the Gophers. In 1923, Hudson played fullback with the Liberty-Snyder semi-pro team.prior to joining the Minneapolis Marines.In 1924, he was charged with robbery for trying to hold up a cab, but was acquitted. In the late 1920s, he became a basketball promoter for the Harlem Globetrotters. In 1933 he was a basketball promoter in Chicago, where he lived at the time. After that, the research trail dried up for me.

Bucko,

        Thanks for your input.  I was able to track him into the 1940's in the Chicago area, but nothing beyond that.  I found several bits of information that I thought would prove helpful, but didn't.  There was an article that mentioned his real first name name was not Richard, but don't know if that's true. Take care.

                                                                    Steve J



April 29, 2017 at 12:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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