It’s been an interesting week for me. I spent most evenings watching “Black Magic,” a documentary on the history of black players in basketball. The documentary is 4 hours long and worth every minute. I watched in segments because I didn’t have 4 hours in a row.
I’ve been studying history all my life, with a focus on African-American (and Women’s) studies. Yet this is a story I did not know. Everyone knows how baseball became integrated. No one discusses how basketball became integrated (or football, for that matter). I learned a lot, and enjoyed it all.
It juxtaposed with an essay by Jerald Walker that I read the same week in the Best American Essays 2007. Walker wrote (and I’m paraphrasing here) that too often people expect black history and literature to be about victims, when actually it’s about heroes–about the survivors. That’s what’s always drawn me–the story of survival against tremendous odds. The essay, called “Dragon Slayers,” stuck with me throughout the viewing of “Black Magic.” “Black Magic” is also about heroes and persisting against tremendous odds.
Rent it, watch it, enjoy.