Search for a Book:
High Contrast: A Story of Basketball, Race and Politics in Oregon 1972 (Paperback)
On Our Shelves Now (updated daily)
On March 25th, 1972, the largest crowd to ever witness a live indoor sporting event in the state of Oregon crammed into Portland’s Memorial Coliseum. The occasion? The Oregon High School Boys Basketball Championship for large (AAA) high schools.
But this was not just another championship. It was the first to feature a team comprised entirely of African-American players – Portland’s Jefferson High Democrats – versus an “all white” collection of rural teenagers from a small, Eastern Oregon city – the Baker Bulldogs.
Set amidst the backdrop of racist history plus the political tumult of 1972, this was much more than a game. It seemed to be a battle for the soul of Oregon.
Through the prism of a high school season culminating on an early spring night in 1972, author Andrew Kaza tells the story of Oregon’s urban and rural divide, its winners and losers and whether lofty athletic achievement can ultimately translate into something much bigger.
About the Author
Andrew Kaza grew up in the Portland suburb of Beaverton, but as the son of Portland teacher/musician Eugene Kaza, he was a fan of Portland high school hoops from a young age. A local sportswriter from the age of 15, he covered high school sports for the Valley Times from 1975-1982. As a fifth grader, he was part of a small group of white kids that took part in a voluntary busing program with the Portland Public Schools and was one of two white kids in his class at Martin Luther King Elementary, a school then 97 percent Black. That experience forever impacted his world view of prejudice and discrimination. After a long media career, including 25 years abroad, he returned to live in Oregon full-time in 2015. With his wife Yee Cheng, he took over a four screen movie theater in the Central Oregon town of Sisters in 2016. When the Covid pandemic struck and shut down the cinema in spring 2020, he embarked to tell the phenomenal story of the Baker-Jefferson game amidst the tumultuous landscape of 1972. A father of six grown children, he resides in Deschutes County, Oregon with his wife, two cats and a restless Samoyed dog named Ava.