A celebration naming College of Marin’s (COM) basketball court after trailblazing basketball player Don Barksdale will be held Friday, April 29, 2022, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at COM’s Kentfield Campus.
Barksdale was one of the first African Americans to break the color barrier and play professionally in the NBA. He is considered one of the most significant alumni to have attended the College.
In June 2020, COM’s Board of Trustees made a unanimous decision to name the basketball court at the Kentfield Campus after the renowned alum. The pandemic delayed the ceremony for almost two years because of limitations and safety concerns for inside gatherings.
Born in Oakland in 1923, Barksdale loved playing basketball from a young age. He was frequently cut from school basketball teams that only allowed one Black player per team and took to playing at local parks. This is where his skills caught the eye of COM’s basketball coach who offered him a scholarship to play for the College, making COM his first school team. Barksdale led COM’s team to two state championships and was named most valuable player. He played at COM from 1941-43, a time when segregation, Jim Crow, and lynching were still legal throughout the United States.
His success at COM launched Barksdale’s basketball career and started a long line of firsts. Barksdale went on to be the first African American to play on the U.S. Olympic team, and at 28 years old, he was one of the first Black men to play in the NBA and one of the highest paid players in the entire league. His career spanned the return of African American troops from World War II, the racist implementation of redlining in housing, and the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. He would later be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
After his basketball career ended in 1955 from an ankle injury, he became a very successful Bay Area radio host and pioneering entrepreneur well into the 1980s. In the 80s, he founded Save High School Sports, a successful nonprofit organization in Oakland that helped support local athletics threatened by a budget crunch.
Barksdale is the only COM athlete inducted into the Community College League of California COA Hall of Fame. Enshrined three years after his death in 1996, he joined the likes of Jackie Robinson, Warren Moon, and Valerie Brisco-Hooks. In 2007, he was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.
COM is honored to name the College’s basketball court after such a legendary figure.
Register to attend and find out more about the Court Dedication, Jersey Retirement, and Celebration in Honor of Don Barksdale at: https://barksdale.eventbrite.com
This event is cosponsored by COM’s Umoja Equity Institute, COM Athletics, Play! Marin, and Associated Students of College of Marin (ASCOM).