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Sun, 11.13.1904

Halley Harding born

Halley Harding

*Halley Harding was born on this date in 1904.  He was a Black college and semi-pro athlete, actor, journalist and civil rights activist.  William Claire (Halley) Harding was born in Wichita, Kansas.  Early in his childhood his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri Chicago, Illinois.  

In the early 1920s he attended Knox College of Galesburg, Illinois, by fall 1924, he had transferred to Wilberforce University in Ohio.  From 1924 through 1931 he played football there, Fisk University and at Wiley College where he was a member of the debate team.    Halley played Negro League baseball with the Kansas City Monarchs between the 1931 season, then in 1932 seasons.  Moving around, he was a member of the Harlem Ren’s basketball team, a forerunner to the Harlem Globetrotters, and also played semi-pro football on two all-Black teams when the NFL was segregated.  In California, he also played bit roles in two Black movies ‘Life goes On’ and ‘The Duke is Tops’ (1939) and ‘Mystery in Swing’ (1940).  

In 1946 he was working as the sports editor.  The segregated NFL wanted to expand the league by moving the Cleveland Ram to Los Angeles.  The team sought to play in the publicly owned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This created pressure on the team be racially integrated, since Black taxpayers as well as white had paid for construction of the facility.  Boycotting this Harding was especially outspoken, at a public meeting of the Coliseum Commission on January 15, 1946.  After his presentation, Rams (then) general manager Charles “Chili” Walsh agreed to take questions from the public whereupon Halley Harding seized the floor and delivered an impassioned, impromptu speech about the history of Black players such as Fritz Pollard and Sol Butler.  

Kenny Washington signed with the Los Angeles Rams on March 21, 1946. The NFL march to integration only strengthened Harding’s case against the Negro leagues, which was deepened by bitter memories of his own career as a player.  On March 30, 1950, Harding, by then a columnist for the Los Angeles Sentinel, criticized an unnamed Negro league team for supposedly playing a regulation game on the way to training camp.  By the 1960s Halley Harding had moved back to Chicago to write for a “militant” weekly, The New Crusader. Halley Harding died on April 1, 1967.  

To become a Professional Athlete

Reference:

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