Race and Resistance in Boston


Race and Resistance in Boston

A Contested Sports History

Edited by Robert Cvornyek and Douglas Stark
Foreword by Devin McCourty

390 pages
16 photographs, 1 map, 3 tables, index


February 2025


$39.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Boston is a city known for its sports as well as its troubled racial conflict. But generations of Black athletes, teams, sportswriters, and front-office executives have exercised historic influence in Boston over the years as they advocated for racial integration and transformed their sports into modes of racial pride, resistance, and cultural expression. Race and Resistance in Boston goes beyond the familiar topics associated with the city’s premiere professional teams, the Red Sox and Celtics, to recount the long history of Black sporting culture in the city.

This collection of essays takes a closer look at Black Bostonians’ involvement in sports as varied as soccer, cricket, boxing, baseball, golf, tennis, basketball, and hockey—and illuminates the effect of Boston’s desegregation and busing crisis on scholastic athletics in the 1970s and 1980s. With personal reminiscences from former New England Patriot Devin McCourty and journalist Bijan Bayne, as well as research from scholars of sport, Race and Resistance in Boston captures the intersection of Black history and sporting culture in America’s City on a Hill.

Author Bio

Robert Cvornyek is professor emeritus of history at Rhode Island College. He is the author of Black Grays and Colored Giants: A Comprehensive Guide to Black Baseball in Rhode Island, 1870–1949. Douglas Stark is a museum consultant and sports historian. He is the author of The James Naismith Reader: Basketball in His Own Words (Nebraska, 2021). Devin McCourty played his entire thirteen-year NFL career with the New England Patriots, winning three Super Bowls.


“A must-read for anyone who wants to go deep into the issue of race and sport and how they intersect with society. Focusing on Boston is a powerful and meaningful approach, as it is a perfect microcosm of these issues. . . . Cvornyek and Stark go deep into the subject of how racism affects sport but also show how sport can be used to bring people together across racial and economic divides.”—Richard E. Lapchick, president of the Institute for Sport and Social Justice

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Devin McCourty
Robert Cvornyek and Douglas Stark
Part I Framing Race, Community, and Resistance in Boston
 1 Integration in Sport: How Busing Reshaped Athletic Talent by Bijan Bayne
 2 An Opening Conversation: Black Activism in Boston Sports by Joseph Cooper
3  The Middle Lane: Race, Sports, Boston, Hoops, and Community by Marcis Fennell, C. Keith Harrison, and Kelly Dwyer
Part II Legitimacy in the Jim Crow Era
 4 Gentlemen of Color: Oliver and Fred Watson and New England Black Soccer by Brian Bunk and Ed Farnsworth
5 In Pursuit of the Boundary: Cricket in Boston’s West Indian Community, 1900 to 1950 by Violet Showers Johnson
6 Black Eyes: A History of Race in the Boston PrizeRing by Andrew Smith
7 The Color of Baseball: Race and Boston’s Sporting Community by Robert Cvornyek
8 Covering Race and Sports in Boston: The Pioneering Work of Mabray “Doc” Kountze by Donna L. Halper
9 Pioneers of African American Golf at the Crossroads: The 1941 Negro National Open Golf Championship Tournament in Boston, Massachusetts by Marvin Dawkins and Jomills Henry Braddock II
Part III Power and Performance in the Freedom Movement
10 Center of Controversy: Bill Russell and Boston by Aram Goudsouzian
11 Willie O’Ree: The Sky’s the Limit by George Fosty
12 Zero Love: The Intersection of Race and Class in Boston Tennis by Sundiata Djata
13 Darling and the Dyke: Differing receptions in the coming-out of Jason Collins and Brittney Griner by Jamie Loke
14 The Enduring Sounds of Whiteness: Boston Sports Radio and Race by Donna L. Halper
15 Act as If: Alison Feaster, the Politics of Inclusion, and Achieving the American Dream in the National Basketball Association  by Eileen Narcotta-Welp and Lis Erickson
Shifting the Focus: Balancing Sports Commemoration and Race by Kathryn Leann Harris

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