The New York Pioneer Club was started in 1936 by three African Americans; Joe Yancey, Robert Douglas and William Culbreath. It was one of the first inter-racial athletic clubs in any sport, amateur or professional. The club was founded to promote higher education for Harlem youth and to advance racial understanding.
The club had a philosophy based on the brotherhood of man and never turned down an athlete because of race, creed or lack of ability. The Pioneer Club was the first of its scope and kind, and a model by which other clubs in other cities followed in years to come. The athletes competed in track and field, road running, and race walking.
New York Road Runner (NYRR) history starts with the New York Pioneer Club (NYPC) and Mr. Joseph Yancey. There wouldn’t have been a NYRR in 1958 without the Pioneer Club. The NYRR’s first President, Ted Corbitt, was a member of the Pioneer Club. The NYPC was making civil rights history in Harlem and the Bronx during an era of racial segregation. The beauty and genius of Mr. Yancey was coaching an athletic team that was a vehicle for his primary mission of building men of character.
The New York Pioneer Club (NYPC) won the Boston Marathon team championship in 1955 and 1957. Also, from 1948 through 1976 at least one New York Pioneer Club athlete represented the United States at the Olympic Games.