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Multiple Programming Offerings Commemorate Black History Month Across ESPN Platforms

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ESPN will celebrate the achievements of African-Americans within sports and in society with Black History Month offerings on ESPN platforms during the month of February.

Celebratory vignettes will air across ESPN’s television networks and appear on digital and social platforms. Other offerings will include:

The Undefeated – ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture will include multiple Black History Month elements throughout February. Highlights:

  • A conversation with black athletic directors in the NCAA.
  • 5 will mark the 45th anniversary of the late Robert L. “Bob” Douglas being enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Douglas was the first African American to enter the hall.
  • The Undefeated 44 – a compilation of 44 dynamic Black Americans who changed the fabric of the country, will debut on Feb. 9.
  • The Harlem Globetrotters: behind the glitz and glamour and overcoming a history of racism, debuting Feb. 13 (by Sharon Brown).
  • Damion Thomas, Sports curator of National Museum of African American History and Culture, voices a vignette series celebrating pivotal sports figures.
  • Video feature: How Nolan Richardson, a black coach, made the University of Arkansas a basketball powerhouse and became larger than life in a city with a racist history (by Marc Spears).

ESPN Audio – Athletes, coaches, ESPN commentators and analysts offering testimonials of what Black History Month means to them will air across ESPN Audio’s programming throughout the month of February.

espnW.com Throughout the month, espnW will present features and stories looking at African-Americans making a difference in sports including a feature on the only female drum major competing at the annual Battle of the Bands. Also, W will have a profile of Spelman College, the historically black, all-female college that ended its sports program five years ago, in favor of a general wellness program. The piece will explore the state of the college today and the impact that redirecting the funds from athletics to wellness has had on its students. Additional highlights:

  • An interview with the women of 4ThirtyTwo dance troupe — The North Carolina-based dance troupe, which is composed of African-American women who self-identify as plus-size. The piece will explore the concepts of body confidence and defying society’s archetype of what a dancer is supposed to look like.
  • A round-table discussion with A United Kingdom director Amma Asante and actor David Oyelowo — Covering the film and how Asante navigates Hollywood as an African woman.
  • A profile of Morgan Parker — Parker released her highly anticipated poetry collection in January, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé. W speaks with Parker about sports, body image and more.
  • The lesser-known history of golfer Althea Gibson: Gibson became the first African-American to compete on the women’s professional golf tour in 1960. espnW spoke with historians, family members and current African-American LPGA golfers about her influence and the road blocks she faced.

The JumpESPN’s daily NBA studio show hosted by Rachel Nichols will air one feature each week in February to celebrate Black History Month. The first piece on Feb.1 featured Tobias Harris of the Detroit Pistons discussing the inspiration he got from his late Grandfather, Lt. John Mulzac, who was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II. Others planned include:

  • Tyson Chandler on honoring the greats of the game who came before today’s generation and how current players stand on the shoulders of those greats.
  • Doc Rivers on Bill Russell, the first African-American coach in the NBA.
  • Myles Turner on Oscar Robertson and the Crispus Attucks high school team from Indianapolis that won the state championship in Indiana in 1955— the first all-black high school to win a state championship.

Longhorn Network – Longhorn Network will recognize several African-American sports figures who have impacted the University of Texas, including:

  • Rodney Page, the first black head coach of any sport at the University of Texas, will be featured on Feb. 9 in Longhorn Extra This Week. Page was the first women’s head basketball coach and led the Longhorns to 38 documented wins from 1973-76.
  • Longhorn Network will feature University of Texas legends Aaron Ross, Sanya Richards-Ross and other athletic greats in a special vignette on the significance of Black History Month.

SEC Network – Black History Month programming on the SEC Network will include a series of vignettes recognizing the accomplishments of black athletes, coaches and students from SEC institutions. The vignettes will be narrated by SportsCenter anchor Jay Harris and SEC Nation host Maria Taylor. Among the highlights:

  • Ole Miss — A member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Peggie Gillom became the first black female student-athlete at Ole Miss in 1976.
  • Missouri — In 1956, basketball pioneer Al Abram became the first black scholarship athlete at Mizzou in any sport.
  • Vanderbilt — In 1967, Perry Wallace broke racial barriers as the first black basketball player in the SEC. In 2005, Vanderbilt established the Perry E Wallace Scholarship Jr. awarded to an undergrad in the School of Engineering, where Wallace earned his bachelor’s degree.

ESPN Classic – During the month of February, ESPN Classic will air an array of films and specials celebrating the influential accomplishments of African-Americans in sports including Muhammad and Larry, Spike Lee’s Joints (parts 1 and 2), The 16th Man, Jordan Rides the Bus, Phi Slama Jama, This Magic Moment, You Don’t Know Bo, Rand University and Bernie and Ernie.

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Media contact: andy.hall@espn.com