From Ohio History Central
Jackie White, a former resident of Cleveland, Ohio, was the first African American to work as a referee at a National Basketball Association (NBA) game. The game, between the Chicago Bulls and the Cincinnati Royals took place at Cleveland Arena, in Cleveland, on February 11, 1968. White was hired after an expansion in the number of teams in the NBA. At the time, White lived in Los Angeles, California and worked as a referee in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Conference. Previously, he had played one season with the Harlem Globetrotters and also worked as a probation officer. After being hired as an NBA referee, White commented, "The Negro has played the role of player, now we're officiating. It's a milestone in sports and we all know we have a job to do."