When Wadie Moore started compiling a record book for the Arkansas Activities Association around 1996, he wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible.
The assistant executive director for Arkansas’s organizing body for high school athletics combed through archives and drew on the contacts he’d made in his decades of sportswriting for the Arkansas Gazette.
All the while, though, Moore knew the record book he was creating told an incomplete story of his state’s athletic past. He knew there had been two high school sports associations divided by race until 1967, when the all-white Arkansas Activities Association integrated with the all-black Arkansas State Athletic Association.
When compiling the book, which includes a list of state champions in various sports and all-time leaders in statistical categories, Moore used official records kept by the AAA dating back to the early 1900s. But he didn’t find any records kept by the ASAA. The paperwork, if it existed, apparently wasn’t transferred to the AAA headquarters. So, Moore didn’t include marks set by all-black powerhouse programs in basketball, football and track like Pine Bluff Merrill, Little Rock Dunbar, Horace Mann, Scipio Jones, Hot Springs Langston and Texarkana Washington high schools.
The result affects not only the AAA record book, but all the news reports that use it as a source. This was evident in early March when Little Rock Hall High won its fourth straight state title in boys’ basketball. News accounts described the achievement as the third time such a four-peat had been achieved in the state. It was actually the fourth time. No mention had been made of Scipio Jones, the North Little Rock school that won four straight all-black state titles in the late 1950s.
This oversight is a problem, said William McCraw and Eddie Miles, two members of Jones teams in the late 1950s. Miles, an All-American at Seattle University who still lives in Seattle, added: “That’s something that somebody one day might say, ‘We need to make a change.’ “
The change could be straightforward: Add a separate category in the AAA record book for ASAA records. A similar arrangement has played out in major league baseball, where comprehensive statistics for Negro leagues can be found through basketball-reference.com, a partner site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Other Southern states have also integrated their record books. Texas and Georgia include state titles won in their pre-integration all-black athletic associations. The states don’t include individual records, which are much harder to confirm.
Wadie Moore is open to a similar expansion of the AAA record book. He never intended it to be static and accepts new submissions for records of all kinds. He believes the pre-integration all-black schools deserve recognition in the only record book of its kind. “Any time you can preserve or find out something from your past like that, I think we should have” an expansion, he said.
The key is compiling and verifying the information. The best route to researching pre-integration state titles would be scouring past issues of the Arkansas Democrat, Arkansas Gazette and Arkansas State Press, a Little Rock-based black newspaper, available on microfilm at the Central Arkansas Library System’s Main Library.
Moore would accept clips from any of these sources. The project would not be easy, but he hopes someone with free time will tackle it. “If someone was willing to do that, it would be a blessing. I would love to see something like that.”