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on July 20, 2013
This is one of the best books I have read so far. It is a must read. It goes into depth about what is going on in the black community today and then. Until we really fully understand our past we cannot correct our future. I hope many more individuals will read this book it might just open up there eyes to what is really going on with our people.
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on November 29, 2014
This book is exceptionally well-written, and the information is invaluable. The one caveat, however, is that if one is not heavily, or even partially, in to sports and athletes, regardless of color, I am certain there are other reads out there. Noticeably, a book of this caliber is of course analyzing the history, success, and failures of the black athlete, which, obviously, and unfortunately, is nothing new. Black people in this still and continual racist society have always been identified with sports and athletics. How about we as black find other ways to seek and acquire power--power of all sorts.
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on October 18, 2014
Author, William C. Rhoden, in his book, FORTY MILLION DOLLAR SLAVES, admonishes the black athlete for dropping the "sense of mission" that the black community entrusted with them. The black community sent its best athletes forth, to raise the status of the athelets and at the same time, raise the status and well being of their communities. They accomplished the first of this two-part dream----they raised their own status and fame. The second part of this contract---raising the status and well being of the black community---was not to happen. They were not ready for the white-backlash that wanted.(wants, still) ...nothing more than to wean itself from dependence on black muscle." But hope is not lost for the black athele, nor is it lost for the black community. The author sees signs of redemption for both. Until that day of redemption comes, though, black athletes will continue to enhance the very system that enslaves them.
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on October 16, 2006
Overall, this is a very good book. As a bookworm since childhood, I've never been a big sports fan (Ali aisde as I'm a 70s child), but I am a historian by profession so I enjoyed that aspect of the book.

Mr. Rhoden gets into some really good information about pioneer Black Athletes as boxer Tom Mollineux, baseball player Moses Fleetwood Walker, cyclist Major Taylor, and Negro League inventor Rube Foster. I've heard of these people, but have not read of their lives with this much depth.

Mr. Rhoden goes on to criticize the modern Black athletes for lacking a sense of history and black nationalism. I understand his frustration and agree from a moral standpoint, but something has to be considered here. Mr. Rhoden and the Black baby boomers came of age during the civil rights movement and the rise of Black nationalism. Its understandable, but not really realistic to expect marginally educated athletes born long after the fact to fully undertstand such things. Actually, its just as well that some of them don't speak out, as poorly informed individuals with a platform can do a lot of damage and cause major confusion among the public by speaking out on important issues that they really know little-to-nothing about (as was the case of some so-called "conscious rappers" of the early 90s). With that said, it WOULD do some of the young black athletes who are more inclined toward serious reading to read this book.

Also, I have to strongly disagree, as I often do with Black Nationalists of his generation, with the glorifying of the Jim Crow era. While I understand that a lot of people feel that we lost out culturally with the end of segregation, growing up in South Carolina in the aftermath of all that makes me say that the bad of Jim Crow far outweighed any good and it is dangerous to encourage any return to this era. One does not need enforced seperation to encourage a sense of group identity.

His argument against Bob Johnson (BET founder and Charlotte Bobcats owner) is far more valid, since Johnson is old enough to have had an appreciation of the struggle to have sold out like he did. It is a sad reminder that we are living in an age of materialism over ideology.

However, Mr. Rhoden's book, even when polemical, is a valuable service and food for thought.
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This book enunciates the problems in graduation from the inner city
into the big leagues. Historically, by the late 1890s, black athletes
excelled at an ever increasing rate. Despite the progress made,
the profile of the black athlete stands at the periphery of power
in the sports establishment. This has lead to the loss of an overall
mission, although the psychological armor remains in the achievements
of the black athletes over the years. The author states that the
plantation slaves performed great physical labor. Prior to the 1970s,
segregation was a significant limiting factor. Sojourner Truth
worked on behalf of the black women of the time. Today, there are
multiple tiers of blacks in America. The book provides some very
important historical background; however, the next step is to
turn the capital acquired from the sports into personal wealth .
In addition, an athlete's physical stamina remains until the
mid-30s or early 40s. What does an athlete do when his/her career
has peaked athletically? The book could discuss this aspect in more
depth. For instance, black athletes could graduate into their
own businesses or attend college/further study to branch out into
other careers/ventures. Another important issue regards how the
black athlete invests money for the future.

Overall, the book provides an important perspective relevant to the
black history of athletes in the various sports. As such, it is
a valuable addition to American History in the sports arena.
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on January 8, 2014
book is informative and eye opening, and explains the black history you'll never learn in the american school system, the best book i read in 2013
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on September 8, 2015
Great perspective of the contemporary athlete. I wish the writer would have dedicated a bit more time for the "Ain't I a woman" chapter because the black female athlete continues to struggle in American regarding pay. Nonetheless, the book had a great deal of historical figures, most I had never known about but that's what happens in good ole Board of "education". More so learning about the Caucasian culture and not enough about African and African American culture in the school system.
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on June 18, 2014
Just finished this one. Really enjoyed it and learned quite a bit from it. I never knew black people (some still slaves) were the original jockeys and very popular. Or that we had major stars in the early start of cycling. It was real interesting learning about the "Conveyer-Belt" that really has a negative affect on black athletes. I highly recommend this to anybody who wants to see and understand the after affects of slavery from a different angle. I see why the promotion for this book was relatively quiet, even though he is a seemingly known sports columnist. He did not sugar coat anything and I am always a fan of that. We don't have anymore time for sugar coating or beating around the bush. Check it out!
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on January 2, 2008
What a terrific book! Rhoden does his homework and writes a detailed, provocotive history of sports in America and African Americans' unique role in shaping that history. It's important for today's athletes and fans to remember the black sports heroes that "history" forgot: Isaac Murphy, the most celebrated horse racing jockey in the late 1800s, a time when Blacks dominated the sport; Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League and a sports/black entrepreneur with a vigor unrivaled in the 20th century; Curt Flood, the first to challenge baseball's Reserve Clause and start the push for player control and free agency. It is equally important to take note of how Blacks were systematically pushed out of professional sports around the turn of the century, then had their own thriving institutions (HBCUs, Negro Leagues) appropriated and plundered by the dominant white industries when integration came about.

Though this history is painful, it may help to be conscious of it when attempting to reform modern day systems and institutions. Rhoden lays all the facts on the table for you. He only falls short when making recommendations for the future. His suggestion is that black athletes today should organize effectively and unite in the "struggle," a vague term that connotes the fight for control and power, not just wealth. Some questions not addressed in this book, but which a careful reader will no doubt seek answers to are: What off-the-field goals drive and motivate the professional athlete? How prevalent is the desire in the athlete to become a team owner or social change agent? If not athletes, who will be drawn to the ranks of the "new ownership" Rhoden advocates for? How does the history of post-slavery black labor mirror the sports industry? What is the nature of black business and entrepreneurship over time - does it too parallel the black experience in the sports industry? In the wake of Robert Johnson's sale of BET to Viacom, what is the nature of black "corporate responsibility" to some social mission in addition to the bottom line? Is a White-ally style of corporate responsibility able to achieve some of the reforms that the book advocates for? How does public education tie into the "conveyor belt" that mine's black talent from the inner city? What are education and other public and private institutions' roles in helping to reach the "promised land" that Rhoden refers to frequently but never quite defines? How can sports catalyze change for the African American community and other disenfranchised groups?

Check this book, and come up with some questions of your own. It's worth your time. Then, bug Rhoden and get him to write the sequel!
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on July 5, 2013
i enjoyed this book very much. it made me think about sports in a different way. it should be required reading for any sports fan
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