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Title IX at 50: The Triad of Women's Basketball

As part of our coverage of Title IX at 50, Black Rosie Media spoke to the TEDx Boston speakers before they made their speeches on May 16, 2022. Thanks to Athletes Unlimited, who partnered with CMS to coordinate the TEDx Boston Talks, we heard from almost all of the Black women invited to speak. As we march towards the 50th anniversary of Title IX on June 23, 2022, we here at Black Rosie Media will share our conversations with:

We will also talk to Bria Felicien, founder of The Black Sportswoman and Black Rosie Media advisor, about the legacy of Wyomia Tyus and Title IX.

Finally, we will break down data that shows Title IX negatively impacted Black girls and women in sports. Let's start with Elizabeth Galloway McQuitter and the history of professional women's basketball in the United States.

She is one of the pioneers of the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL), which lasted three seasons. The WBL predated the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) by its defunct competitor, the American Basketball League (ABL).

The WBL is part of what the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame calls The Triad - WBL, Title IX, and the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women, or AIAW, which predated the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Triad is responsible for the growth of women's basketball we see in the United States today, and McQuitter lived to tell its story.

She was tapped by Athletes Unlimited and CMS for the “Power in My Voice” programming ahead of the Title IX 50th anniversary on June 23, 2022.

"We are not a league that failed. We are a league that propelled the game forward."

"We are not a league that failed. We are a league that propelled the game forward," McQuitter told the crowd about her time as a professional basketball player. Her talk during the TEDxBoston event speaks volumes to me as the founder of a new site looking to bring to light what decades of racism and sexism have erased from sports history.

"The message I want to bring to Title IX and 50 is, as we're celebrating the 50 years, can we also take pause and look back at who are those first women that have stepped through the doors Title IX opened? The first women in general, the first African American woman, because most of us were the first African Americans at our universities," McQuitter told me during our phone chat last month.

McQuitter, Marian Washington, and the recently retired C. Vivian Stringer are just some of the women who also went on to pioneer Black women in coaching roles.

As Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Women's Basketball program continue to celebrate their 2022 NCAA Championship – Staley's second and only the third-ever won by a Black woman head coach – we should be remembering the shoulders and the history women's basketball stands on.

"There was a group of us that had coached for a while, and we started breaking into coaching jobs that predominantly white universities, so that history is not as known," McQuitter told me. "When you're not seen, everyone is cheated. That's the way we reacted when we first saw the movie Hidden Figures. I felt cheated. I felt angry. Why didn't I know that?"

Members of the Iowa Comets of the WBL pose for a photo at he 2018 Women's Basketball hall of Fame Induction Weekend

It has been an uphill climb to get the women who came before the WNBA their just due, but McQuitter, she's not quitting! She currently serves as the President of Legends of the Ball, a non-profit organization that shares the history of the Women's Basketball League (WBL) and other pioneers that made 26 seasons (and counting) of the WNBA possible.

Check back on Black Rosie Media for more from the "Power in My Voice" speaker series coordinated by Athletes Unlimited and CMS for TEDxBoston.


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