Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mr. William "Bill" Blair

Today I got the honor to sit down and interview Mr. William "Bill" Blair. Mr. William Blair is one of the nicest men I ever interviewed. He told me stories about the Negro League that I couldn't get from the history books. A native of Dallas, Texas, William (Bill) Blair, Jr. was born on October 17, 1921. A former Negro League baseball player turned newspaper publisher, Blair has been the voice of the Dallas community for over forty years. Blair attended Booker T. Washington High School and Prairie View A&M University. After six months at Prairie View A&M, Blair enlisted in the United States Army and became the youngest black first sergeant in the United States Army during World War II.

Blair, a Negro League Baseball Museum inductee, pitched from 1946 to 1951 for the Indianapolis Clowns and other Negro League baseball teams. His baseball career includes pitching a no-hitter in the Denver Post Tournament, playing with the late Winfield Welch, Jesse "Hoss" Walker and Buster Haywood and touring with Jesse Owens and the Harlem Globetrotters. Blair was instrumental in the development of the African American Museum's Texas Sports Hall of Fame and serves on its advisory board. He was inducted in 1996 as a member of its inaugural class.

Blair founded the Highlight News (1947-1957). He also later founded the Southwest Sports News, a newspaper that specialized in publishing scores from Black college games throughout the United States. The paper was renamed The Elite News in 1960. One of the most influential black newspapers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolis, Elite News created "The Elite News Awards Night," which was the first African American awards ceremony in Dallas when it began in 1975.

Blair has been a civil rights activist for more than six decades. In 1986, Blair launched the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade, and this parade is now an institution in Dallas. Blair is a major force in local and state politics and is also an advocate for the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance. In 2004, he founded the Religious Hall of Fame to honor African American ministers. Blair is also the author of two books, 1990 and 1991 pictorial history, The Dallas I Know.

Blair lives in Dallas, Texas with Mozelle, his wife of sixty-three years. All of his children are involved in the family business.

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