Black Hoosiers

The journey, pain and triumph of a high school team in 1950s Indiana

Crispus Attucks High School, a 1950s athletic powerhouse of small-town Indiana, burst onto the national scene as a resilient underdog. The school bears the name of the runaway slave who was believed to be the first American killed by British soldiers in the Boston Massacre, and was founded by D.C. Stephenson, a grand master of the Ku Klux Klan, in an attempt to preserve segregation. However, he inadvertently created a “monster.”

Crispus Attucks’ basketball team would go on to become the nation’s first all-black team to win a state title. Lead by future basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, Crispus Attucks was the most invincible team in the state from 1950-1957, winning six regional championships, four semi-state championships and back-to-back state titles in 1955 and ’56, culminating in a 179-20 record.

Despite such success on the playing field, the dark past of Indiana made this journey almost impossible, as the players were forced to endure both institutional and overt racism while traveling and competing. Such horrific memories still resonate with Oscar Robertson, as he maintains a grudge from this period of his life and playing career.