The National Negro Bowling Association (NNBA) was formed on August 20, 1939, in Detroit, Mich. Now known today as The National Bowling Association (TNBA), the organization boasts over 23,000 members and hundreds of leagues nationwide.
Bowling had become a favorite pastime for many Black families, and the NNBA was formed in part to organize leagues and membership as the sport’s popularity grew. Two prominent organizations, the American Bowling Congress (ABC), and the Women’s International Bowling Congress (WBIC), a counterpart to the ABC, barred non-white members from joining their ranks.
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The NNBA held its first meeting at the Frog’s Club in Motor City, with Wynston Brown becoming the group’s first president. In 1944, non-white bowlers were allowed to join the NNBA, as the ABC and WBIC wouldn’t let them join due to race. The NNBA changed its name after opening its doors. However, membership remained predominately Black.
Under pressure from the NAACP, the ABC and WBIC removed its rule barring non-white members and the following year, the ABC hosted a tournament featuring the first all-Black bowling team, the Allen Supermarket team.
Groups like the TNBA gave way to pioneers such as Louise Fulton, a United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame inductee who became the first Black bowler to win a professional title in 1964, and the first Black inductee to the group’s Hall of Fame. Gary Faulkner Jr., the only active Black professional bowler to win a national title, played in TNBA tournaments before going pro.
Today, TNBA is lead by its president, G. Dewann Clark, and Dr. Michael Boykins.
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