The Women’s Basketball Association, born in Kansas City, paved the way for a structure professional women’s basketball leagues would follow into the future.

Active from 1991 to 1995, the WBA, its eight teams and players, are being recognized locally with the WBA Hall of Fame Exhibition at the Black Archives of Mid America. The archives team opened the exhibit in February, but are now raising funds to enhance the exhibit and move into a permanent location in their new west wing.

The WBA was founded by Lightning Mitchell who was looking for a way to honor and recognize some of the first women who played in the league  He called Carmelita Williams, executive director at the Black Archives of Mid-America, who had no idea Kansas City was home to the WBA and agreed it was important to honor the league and the women for their commitment to the sport.

“These women were college graduates,” Williams said, “they took jobs on the professional basketball circuit that paid them very little money because of their passion. I want people to recognize that, especially young people to recognize what you can do when you have a passion for something.”

The Black Archives is now accepting donations to enhance the exhibit to better represent the WBA’s history.  Her goal is to make the exhibit flooring look like a real basketball court and to mount the informational panels and team logos to the walls. The updated exhibit will also have a collection of memorabilia including a signed basketball from some of the first WBA players and encased team uniforms.

The plan is to have the archives’ new west wing, which will house the WBA Hall of Fame and other temporary exhibits, ready to open by July 1, 2020.

Williams said the Black Archives is seeking $3,000 to finish updating the exhibit. When the construction is finished, Williams hopes to have a grand opening.

Donations to the project can be made here. Make sure to note that the donation goes to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame exhibit: Donate | Black Archives of Mid-America Kansas City

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Jazzlyn Johnson

Jazzlyn "Jazzie” is the former senior reporter for our team, who joined the company in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, through the Report for America service program. For the past two years, she covered...

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