The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central by Steve Marantz
High School Basketball at the '68 Racial Divide

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In the spring of 1968, the Omaha Central High School basketball team made history with its first all-black starting lineup. Their nickname, the Rhythm Boys, captured who they were and what they did on the court. Led by star center Dwaine Dillard, the Rhythm Boys were a shoo-in to win the state championship. But something happened on their way to glory.  In early March, segregationist George Wallace, in a third-party presidential bid, made a campaign stop in Omaha. By the time he left town, Dillard was in jail, his coach was caught between angry political factions, and the city teetered on the edge of racial violence. So began the Nebraska state high school basketball tournament the next day, caught in the vise of history. The Rhythm Boys of Omaha Central tells a true story about high school basketball, black awakening and rebellion, and innocence lost in a watershed year. The drama of civil rights in 1968 plays out in this riveting social history of sports, politics, race, and popular culture in the American heartland.

About Steve Marantz

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Steve Marantz is an Omaha Central graduate and the author of Sorcery at Caesars: Sugar Rayês Marvelous Fight. A researcher for ESPN Content Development and E:60, and a coeditor of, he formerly covered sports, government, and politics for the Kansas City Star, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald. Susie Buffett, a 1971 graduate of Omaha Central, is the eldest of Warren Buffettês three children and runs the not-for-profit Sherwood Foundation.
Published March 1, 2011 by Bison Books. 264 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

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ESPN researcher, former journalist and Omaha Central alum Marantz (Sorcery at Caesars: Sugar Ray’s Marvelous Fight, 2008) walks a fine line between impartial reporter and impassioned participant in telling the story of the 1968 Omaha Central boys’ basketball team, a talented team more notable for...

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ForeWord Reviews

Despite Dillard’s tragic life, Marantz considers him a member of a generation of African Americans whose fight for racial dignity led to the election of the nation’s first black president in 2008, the year Dillard died.

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