The following excerpts are taken from Arthur Ashe's third book, "A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete," published by Warner Books.

The years between the ends of the two World Wars offered about as much contrast as our nation could handle. The 1920s was known as the "Golden Decade of Sports" because of the prevalence and fame of such stars as Babe Ruth, Harold (Red) Grange, Bill Tilden, Jack Dempsey, and Bobby Jones.

Of course, it should have been more appropriately called the "Golden Decade of "(White) Sports," for black athletes were shut out of major league baseball, eased out of professional football and basketball leagues, barred from Forest Hills in tennis, and unlawfully kept out of contention for the heavyweight boxing crown. Most sobering of all was the complete disappearance of the black turf jockey from a sport he dominated a mere twenty years before.

In the period just prior to the Second World War, America had its confidence badly shaken by a depression so deep that college professors were selling apples on the street. It is a wonder that some sports survived at all. Government programs kept many people on "make-work" jobs that ordinarily would have been in low demand. Some of these projects involved building sports facilities.

Despite the large migration of blacks to the North during the First World War, the majority of them still lived in the South at the end of the 1920s. If a black youngster in the North was lucky, he or she could go to a fairly decent public school where sports were a standard part of the extracurricular activities program. In the South, a black youngster would be lucky to finish the seventh grade before being forced by economic necessity to work. Even if he or she had the time, the imbalance in facilities was blatant.

In a 1928 study of recreation in the South, it was found that "In the case of public parks . . . 4 out of 17 southern cities have facilities for whites only; one half of those cities which have recreation centers have none for Negroes; 3 have public bathing beaches for whites only and 10 out of 17 have swimming pools for whites only." The South just did not spend much on recreation per capita; partly because the weather was warm.

The migration northward during the First World War had swamped the public recreational facilities. Factories, churches, Urban League chapters, Travelers Aid Societies, fraternal organizations, YMCAs, and YWCAs struggled to make life more pleasant for the new arrivals. School buildings were commandeered. In Detroit just after the war, the use of public school buildings at night and public high school buildings for evening sports was a method to alleviate the demand for athletics. It did not get appreciably better in the 1920s.

Northern high schools built new sports grounds to handle the increased demand. Gyms and football/track fields were constructed as newspapers increased their coverage of sports. In 1920, the New York Herald, for instance, allotted 60 percent of its local news coverage to sports. The New York World gave 40 percent. The black-owned paper, the Chicago Defender, had a circulation of over 280,000, two-thirds of which was outside Chicago. The nation was going sports crazy but facilities were frequently off-limits to blacks or nonexistent as in the South.

There were, however, some solid gains in the 1920s. The Negro National League was formed in baseball by the charismatic Andrew (Rube) Foster. William DeHart Hubbard won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in the long jump. Blacks participated in the fledgling National Football League, though they were ultimately barred for thirteen years between 1934 and 1946. The United Golfers Association was formed to enhance opportunities for blacks on the links. Two of the most famous basketball teams ever formed -- the New York Renaissance and the Harlem Globetrotters -- began their tours; and Chicago replaced New York City as the black sports capital of America.

Chicago's importance cannot be understated. The city's black newspaper, the Chicago Defender, had heavy sports coverage and was carried by black railroad porters to points south and west. The Chicago Romas, The Savoy Big Five and the Harlem Globetrotters basketball teams were Chicago based. Mrs. C.O. (Mother) Seames also had her famous one-court tennis instruction program in Chicago. Rube Foster and three Negro League baseball teams also made Chicago their home. The East-West All-Star Negro League baseball game was played at Chicago's Comiskey Park.

The Golden Gloves Boxing Tournament was begun there by Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune. Jack Johnson, the former heavyweight champion, lived in Chicago; as did Joe Louis at the height of his career. In football, Amos Alonzo Stagg was the coach of the University of Chicago football team and had won more games than any other college coach. Richard Hudlin, a black player from St. Louis, was captain of the University of Chicago tennis team. Soldier Field stadium was the largest in the country and professional football players were on the Chicago Cardinals NFL team. Wendell Phillips High School had a predominantly black student body and was nationally known for its sports teams. In short, no other city, not even New York City, could match Chicago in black sports participation and accomplishment between 1920 and 1940.

Two events, however, occurred in 1929 that profoundly affected sports for blacks and everyone else. One was the stock market crash that plunged the nation into the Great Depression. The other was the commissioned Carnegie Report that highlighted widespread abuses of rules in college sports programs.

The report recommended a de-emphasis of sports on campuses, which meant that for the already under-funded black land grant colleges, hard choices had to be made. For a time, only football mattered. As the Feb. 2, 1935, Norfolk Journal and Guide newspaper, a black publication, wrote, "There hardly seems to be any other dish on the table for local fans except football. Efforts have been made to interest the public in sport for every season, but that seems to have gone for naught."

Certain black colleges were granted funds to refurbish their sports facilities. Virginia State (Petersburg) received $70,000 in 1935 to erect an indoor pool, locker rooms, and to resod its football field. But blacks had little voting control over these decisions. As late as 1940, only three of the 17 black land grant colleges had black board members with voting power.

At the end of the 1930s, most black sports observers were only cautiously optimistic about the future in spite of the fame of performers like Jesse Owens and Joe Louis. In the first definitive historical review of black sports, Edwin B. Henderson noted in his book, "The Negro in Sports" (1939), that " . . . the records show no outstanding Negro champions in archery, auto racing, badminton, billiards, bob-sledding, bowling, canoeing, casting, chess, court tennis, cricket, curling, fencing, gymnastics, handball, hockey, horseshoe pitching, ice-skating, lacrosse, lawn bowling, motor boating, polo, rackets, rowing, rugby, skeet shooting, trap-shooting, skiing, squash, swimming, table tennis, wrestling, and yachting." What had emerged for blacks was a Big Five: baseball, basketball, football, boxing and track.

Blacks had begun to concentrate on those sports stressed in the public school systems because they were free of charge. The school systems in turn stressed team sports that occupied as many students as possible. Hence, with the exception of boxing, the other four of the Big Five formed the nucleus of future black participation. Historical and traditional links to the past, like jockeys and wrestling, were forgotten. Only the Big Five really mattered.

Few civil rights groups, like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), got involved in sports disputes. Games were thought to be quasi-frivolous anyway. All that changed, however, in the early 1940s when the labor movement assumed the leadership role for black advancement. Leaders such as A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters made a cause of the entry of blacks in major league baseball. Such an event was, in his mind, a test of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's true intentions concerning fairness in employment. The slogan "If he's good enough for the Navy, he's good enough for the majors {leagues}" became a favored expression during the Second World War. This positive role of black civil rights leaders, particularly labor leaders, in effecting progress in sports has been historically underestimated.

The war itself provided many American males -- black and white -- with their first sustained exposure to one another on the athletic field. For most southern whites, it was a difficult adjustment to make since blacks dominated sports contests in all branches of the armed forces. It put to rest notions of the natural superiority of whites over blacks -- there was now proof in the flesh.

The nation as a whole was more receptive to the participation of blacks in professional sports leagues after the war, though there probably would not have been too many problems beforehand. This increased receptiveness notwithstanding, blacks took matters into their own hands and pressed for redress in practically every sport around. The result was an unprecedented five-year period between 1946 and 1950, when the American sports establishment was literally forced to open their doors to blacks. The South remained a problem but it, too, in time gave way.

This 25-year period (1919-1945) is best remembered for the exploits of Jesse, Joe, and Jackie: Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and Jackie Robinson. These three black athletes left indelible impressions on America and the world. Owens was the fastest, Louis was the strongest, and Robinson was the bravest. Each in his own way forced the country to see the folly of erecting barriers between the races in the athletic arena. Each represented the best at his sport and was an example of what an individual could do if only given the chance. That is all anyone can ask and the black athlete was no different.

Blacks at White Colleges

The basketball policy of the various white athletic conferences was mixed toward blacks between the two World Wars. The Ivy League and other schools that compete in the Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association of America (IC4A) competitions were generally receptive. There was a history of black participation dating back to William T.S. Jackson and John B. Taylor in track; and baseball and football had already bestowed national honors on their token darker brethren. Jim Crow laws and white racist customs in the South, however, kept all blacks out of white colleges there. Princeton University, in New Jersey, had a "whites only" policy until 1944.

John Howard Johnson was Columbia University's first black player and as the following report shows, he was not afraid to defend himself. "Johnson, Columbia's Negro center, and Peck, a Quaker {University of Pennsylvania} guard, lost their heads and exchanged blows under the Columbia basket." Peck seemed to have taken on more than he could handle since Johnson was a much larger center.

Ralph Bunche, the future Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was a standout at UCLA in the mid-1920s, though he stood only 5-10. The tallest players in this era were around six feet five inches as in the case of famed Celtic star, Joe Lapchick. Charles Drew, who later received acclaim for his work on blood plasma, played at Amherst in 1923.

George Gregory, a graduate of New York City's DeWitt Clinton High School, was elected Columbia's captain in 1930. He was also named to the Helms Foundation All-America team in 1931, alongside the soon-to-be legendary UCLA coach, John Wooden. In his three-year career, Gregory scored 509 points in 62 games. James D. and Samuel E. Barnes were the first black siblings to play at Oberlin in Ohio, where there was a long tradition of black participation.

The National Football League had begun to freeze out its black players; in 1933 they banned all of them for thirteen years. Major league baseball gave no hint of integrating, and black jockeys had been systematically driven off the tracks by the eve of World War I. Northern white college basketball's odd-league-out was the Big Ten. While it showcased black football talent, it refused to allow black basketball players until after World War II.

In January 1934, the University of Michigan -- a Big Ten school -- caused an uproar when it dismissed Franklin Lett from its freshman squad. Lett had been informed by coach F.C. Cappon that "There has never been a colored boy to play basketball in the Big Ten. It has been a mutual agreement between the coaches not to use a colored boy in basketball." In a letter to Cappon, Roy Wilkins, the young assistant secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, angrily replied that Cappon's remarks were an insult to young Lett personally and to blacks in general.

Two weeks later, the January 27 Afro-American newspaper reported that " . . . an alleged agreement between the Big Ten coaches to keep colored players off basketball teams . . . was broken this week when . . . Michigan was forced to place Franklin Lett, star athlete, back on the freshman squad." Lett, however, never played varsity basketball for Michigan. Two years before, Michigan track star Eddie Tolan won two gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Michigan's and the Big Ten's treatment of black basketball players was patently unfair and discriminatory. As if to verify the University of Michigan's racist policies, all-white college basketball doubleheaders at New York City's Madison Square Garden were begun the same year.