Chuck Cooper, one of the NBA's first Black players..
September 29

Cooper with Auerbach, 1950
*On this date in 1926, Chuck Cooper was born. He was an African-American basketball player and government official.

From Pittsburgh, he was the son of Daniel and Emma Cooper.
He played basketball and graduated from Westinghouse High School and attend West Virginia State before entering the Navy during World War II. Afterwards, the 6’5” Cooper attended Duquesne University and was one of the first Black All-Americans. On April 25, 1950 Cooper broke the color barrier in the National Basketball Association (NBA) by being drafted by the Boston Celtics.

According to his coach Red Auerbach, Cooper “had to go through hell,” as the first Black in the sport. He played for six seasons and with fellow rookie and roommate Bob Cousy they revitalized a mediocre team. He then played a season for the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks and the Fort Wayne Pistons, before finishing his career outside the NBA with the Harlem Magicians.

Cooper later earned a Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota., served on Pittsburgh’s school board, and became the city’s first Black department head as director of parks and recreation. Chuck Cooper also worked as supervisor of Pittsburgh’s National Bank’s affirmative action program before he died in 1984.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1000 West Columbus Avenue
Springfield, MA 01105


The African American Registry®, 
a resource on African American History,
is a 
501(c) (3) non-profit education organization
Our Mailing address is  
P.O.  Box  19441
Minneapolis, MN  55419
Fax:  (612) 825-0598
Email us at

The African American Registry® Copyright 2005