The Undefeated Reveals “The Undefeated 44”

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The Undefeated Reveals “The Undefeated 44”

Compilation of 44 African Americans who Changed the Country

The Undefeated, ESPN’s multimedia content platform focused on the intersection of sports, race and culture, today revealed “The Undefeated 44” – a list of living and past African Americans with extraordinary accomplishments and contributions who are symbols of pride and aspiration.

“The Undefeated 44” was compiled by a panel of editors, senior writers, contributors and other stakeholders at The Undefeated as part of its month-long Black History Month content initiative. The list was limited to 44 as a tribute to the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama – the first African-American president.

“The Undefeated 44” covers a broad spectrum of African American experiences in the United States – pioneers, dreamers, innovators and geniuses. The esteemed group includes:

  • A former professional player who became basketball’s most gravity-defying athlete and its best ever – Michael Jordan;
  • A raw, piercing comedian who parlayed his biting commentary to become the best of his generation – Richard Pryor;
  • A woman who, after her death at 31, became an unwitting participant in a pioneering research for the treatment of cervical cancer – Henrietta Lacks;
  • A photographer and film director who became the progenitor of the “blaxploitation” genre of movies – Gordon Parks;
  • A professional tennis player with record 23 Grand Slam titles, the most titles in the Open Era, and considered the greatest female tennis player of all time – Serena Williams;
  • A physician, surgeon and medical researcher who pioneered large-scale blood banks and advanced research on blood transfusion – Charles R. Drew;
  • A literary genius and one of the intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance who later established a school of dramatic arts at then Bethune-Cookman College – Zora Neale Hurston.

Each of the #Undefeated44’s dynamic African Americans is profiled on including highlights of their impact and accomplishments. Readers are equally encouraged to share their feedback via the site’s conversation page – YOU GOT 99 WORDS.

“The Undefeated 44” (alphabetically/last names):

Robert Abbott Alvin Ailey Muhammad Ali
Richard Allen Maya Angelou Ella Baker
James Baldwin Jean-Michel Basquiat Mary McLeod Bethune
Shirley Chisholm Benjamin O. Davis Sr. Frederick Douglass
Dr. Charles Drew W.E.B. Du Bois Duke Ellington
Aretha Franklin Jimi Hendrix Zora Neale Hurston
Jesse Jackson Michael Jackson Jay-Z
Katherine Johnson Quincy Jones Michael Jordan
Martin Luther King Jr. Henrietta Lacks Malcolm X
Thurgood Marshall Toni Morrison Barack Obama
Jesse Owens Gordon Parks Sidney Poitier
Richard Pryor Jackie Robinson Sojourner Truth
Harriet Tubman Madam C.J. Walker Booker T. Washington
Ida B. Wells Serena Williams August Wilson
Oprah Winfrey Stevie Wonder

The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub,, which launched in May 2016, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues.

In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.

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Mac Nwulu

I joined ESPN in 1998 and since then, it's been a great experience managing PR and communications for a range of ESPN initiatives and properties over the years. I am currently focused on soccer and The Undefeated, ESPN’s site focusing on sports, race and urban culture and how they intersect.
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