Passing for "black": The Effa Manley story
Passing for "black":
The life story of Effa Manley
Effa Manley was a mono-racial White
woman who chose to "pass" for being a
"black"-categorized, Mixed-Race woman
of the African-American Ethnic grouping .
Manley was also the only female owner in
the entire history of The Negro Leagues.
And her considerable influence extended
beyond baseball as well; she was also
active in the African-American-led
Civil Rights Movement.
Manley was born March 27, 1900.
Her birth, like much of
her life, was controversial.
Manley rarely discussed her heritage,
and most people simply assumed that
she was a light-complexioned Mixed-Race
woman of the African-American Ethnicity.
But Manley, in an interview she held in 1973,
Manley admitted that she was actually White.
Her mother, Bertha Ford Brooks, was White,
of German and Asian-Indian descent.
Effa explained that Bertha, who earned a
living as a seamstress, became pregnant
by her White employer, John M. Bishop,
who was also a wealthy Philadelphian.
Manley's Black stepfather, Benjamin Brooks,
sued Bishop and received a settlement of
$10,000 before he and Bertha divorced.
Bertha remarried, and Effa was then
later raised in a household with a
Black step-father and part-Black
half-siblings, and so chose
to live as a "black" person.
After graduation from high school in
Philadelphia , Effa moved to New York
--- where she took work in the
millinery (hat-making) business.
Fittingly, she met Abe Manley, a man
24 years her senior, at the 1932
World Series at Yankee Stadium.
Abe and Effa married the following
year, on June 15, 1935 and ran
the Eagles, a Negro National
League team, from 1935-48.
A book, about the life of `Effa
Manley', is currently available.
The book is entitled --
'Queen of the Negro
Leagues: Effa Manley
and the Newark Eagles'
and the book is written by
author, James Overmyer
- Wow! Now, this is interesting.
I'm surprised this was even permitted, back then.
I'm shocked that she wasn't "found out" and
killed for doing such a thing, given how
people felt about "race," back then.
I suppose, since she was living in a home
with "black" parents (father?). I don't know.
What does anyone else think of this story?
People like Effa Manley, and her family,
are real HEROS... in my book =)
I can't imagine how difficult it must
have been for her, and her family ...
for her to have "passed" as black???!
Interesting, indeed! Heather