Conversations on Being a Black Athlete in the World Today
SportsCenter Anchor Cari Champion to Host from Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture, will present Dear Black Athlete, a series of conversations featuring prominent African American athletes, and civic and community leaders, on Sunday, February 11, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The one-hour program will be taped in front of a live audience at the historic Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. – the birthplace of the civil rights movement – on Wednesday, February 7. SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion will host and moderate the conversations.
Kevin Merida, ESPN Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated, on Dear Black Athlete: “This television special is an homage to one of the most admired leaders of the 20th century, and also a tribute to black athletes whose leadership and intellect are sometimes underappreciated. We are honored to anchor this series of conversations at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham, where Dr. King spoke many times to mass rallies and courageously battled injustice.”
Dear Black Athlete will be presented as part of ESPN’s annual Black History Month programming and will culminate State of the Black Athlete, a multiplatform collaboration between The Undefeated and ESPN The Magazine.
“As a company that deeply values diversity, Dear Black Athlete reaffirms ESPN’s commitment to engage the athletes we cover and fans we serve in conversations that lead toward collaboration and away from division,” said Rosalyn Durant, Senior Vice President for College Networks, who oversees ESPN’s Black History Month content initiatives.
The television program will include select athletes reading personalized letters, reflecting their thoughts on being a black athlete in America today.
Champion added: “It’s a watershed moment in this country as black athletes are expected to use their platform to highlight social injustice. This conversation will give so many people a rare look inside the black athlete’s journey.”
The title – Dear Black Athlete – is an ode to the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” written by Martin Luther King Jr. – a spirited defense of nonviolent direct action against racism. Fifty years after King’s assassination, African American athletes, through the strength of their platforms, have increasingly become vehicles in trying to bridge divisions in society. Birmingham’s Sixth Avenue Baptist Church, where King spoke and led civil rights marches, provides a backdrop to address the need for continued progress in 21st century America.
The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture. The digital hub, TheUndefeated.com, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain.
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 and other forms of engagement to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.
Dear Black Athlete is one in a series of televised conversations convened by The Undefeated to address topical issues impacting the African-American community. In August 2016, The Undefeated held its first townhall in Chicago on Athletes, Responsibility and Violence – a discourse on guns, violence and law enforcement as the city reeled from record murder rates. Two months later in October 2016, President Barack Obama headlined A Conversation with the President: Sports, Race and Achievement at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C.