Drawing largely from a successful American Cast Iron Pipe Company Industrial League team, the Black Barons were organized in 1920 for the inaugural season of Rube Foster's Negro Southern League, which operated mainly as a minor league. They played in that league for three years before making the leap to the larger Negro National League, which operated as a major league. They were unable to keep their position due to irregularities with the team finances and returned to the Southern League for three more years. Their return to the National League in 1927 was marked by the emergence of star pitcher Satchel Paige, who led the Black Barons to the second half pennant. They lost the Negro National League title to the Chicago American Giants in four straight games.
For the next decade or so they alternated leagues before being bought by Memphis, Tennessee, funeral home director Tom Hayes and joined the Negro American League in 1940. Early in the decade the team was sold again to Abraham Saperstein who also owned the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. In 1943 and 1944 they won back-to-back pennants. Starting in 1945, they became full members of the Negro American League and continued their success, winning a third pennant in 1948 with the help of teenage outfielder Willie Mays. They ended up losing three Negro World Series to the Homestead Grays that decade, forging a notable rivalry. As the Major Leagues started signing talented African American players, the Black Barons tried to form a new Negro Southern League with three other Southern teams.
The franchise was owned by William Bridgeforth from 1952 to 1955, and by Sid Lynor and Floyd Meshac in 1955. Dr. Anderson Ross purchased the franchise in 1956 and renamed the team the Birmingham Giants.
The Black Barons played their last game in 1960.