“Forty Million Dollar Slaves” by William C. Rhoden tells the history of Black athletes navigating the racist efforts to limit their participation in sports. Largely focused on athletes in America, the book begins in the 1700s and continues into the 2000s. Through the stories of various athletes, Rhoden presents his case for how organized Black athleticism as a means of control was first cultivated on plantations and shows how that mentality continues into the present.
The area in New York City referred to as Harlem has existed under its current name for about 360 years.
Usually, with these historical profiles, I try to be as succinct as possible and focus on just the relevant Black History. But, to understand Harlem’s present and put it in context, we need at least an overview of it’s more distant and complete past.