National Negro Bowling Association

From Ohio History Central
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The National Negro Bowling Association (NNBA) formed on August 20, 1939, in Detroit, Michigan.

In the 1930's, most bowling organizations restricted membership to white people, A group of African Americans formed their own association. The NNBA held its first tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1939. The organization included teams from Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Toledo, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Chicago, Illinois; and Racine, Wisconsin. Teams from other parts of the United States joined the association, but bowlers from Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit dominated the league until the 1950s.

In 1944, the NNBA became known as the National Bowling Association. The Association welcomed people of all races but African Americans continued to dominate the group's membership. One of the organization's presidents during the 1950s was William DeHart Hubbard, an African-American sports legend from Cincinnati. In 1951, the two other major bowling organizations, the American Bowling Congress and the Women's International Bowling Congress, also stopped excluding people from membership on the basis of race and allowed whites and blacks to compete in the same events. A principal reason for this change was legal pressure from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and from the National Bowling Association.

The National Bowling Association continues to exist today. In 2007, the organization had a membership of thirty thousand adult members. The association also oversaw approximately five hundred separate leagues within the United States.

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