The television special Unapologetic: The Black Female Athlete, the centerpiece of ESPN’s month-long commemoration of Black History Month, debuts Sunday, Feb. 24, at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The thought-provoking program highlights the challenges, portrayal and achievements of black female athletes.
The program features interviews with a lineup of accomplished female athletes including Laila Ali, Michelle Carter, Misty Copeland, Allyson Felix, Simone Manuel, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Nneka Ogwumike and A’ja Wilson. Professional softball phenom and Gold Glove recipient A.J. Andrews is the program’s host and interviewer.
“It was an honor to serve as the host for this groundbreaking and eye-opening ESPN special highlighting the unique experiences of phenomenal African American women in sports and their rise to greatness,” said Andrews. “Hearing the stories of these amazing women was extraordinary.”
Presented by The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture, the half-hour program also includes portions of a panel discussion held at Morgan State University.
The program’s segments focus on marketing of the black female athlete, body image and hair, pay equality and representation in sports. Each segment pairs Andrews with an athlete in a unique location.
Quotes from the program:
A.J. Andrews — You know we always talk about, as black men, black women, we have to work twice as hard as our counterparts. And in my opinion, in softball it’s almost like you have to work 10 times as hard because it is a primarily white sport. Because you are not typically seen in that sport, it doesn’t seem as if they give the equal opportunity.
Nneka Ogwumike — There needs to be an awareness. There needs to be an awareness of those affected directly, like us. There needs to be an awareness of those indirectly affected. Everyone needs to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. I’m seeing that that is the problem.
Ibtihaj Muhammad — I watched Gabby Douglas take the world by storm at the Olympic Games in 2012 and I watched the conversation turn about her hair. I was very frustrated by the conversation, because to me, it took away from what she had achieved in that moment.
Michelle Carter — To that young girl that’s out there getting ready to start her journey, know that you are beautiful, know that you are smart, know that you are strong, and know that you were made the way that you’re made on purpose because you were created to do great things, and don’t let anybody take that away from you.
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