Black History Month Commemorations Have Begun Across ESPN Platforms


Black History Month Commemorations Have Begun Across ESPN Platforms

ESPN's Black History Always Initiative Amplified for February

Continuing a tradition and commitment dating back more than 25 years, ESPN is amplifying its year-round commitment to Black History Always to recognize Black History Month with a cross-platform content initiative during the month of February.

Black History Always launched in January 2021 as a content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture while celebrating African American history and triumph every year, all year.

Throughout February, ESPN will emphasize its Black History Always tradition, featuring content across platforms with shows, specials, events and other historical storytelling content featuring well-known athletes, talent and coaches.

“Serena’s farewell. Aaron Judge’s heroics. Brittney Griner’s ordeal. LeBron’s record-setting march. And the unprecedented quarterback matchup of Super Bowl LVII. Black History Always isn’t just a slogan, it’s an integral part of ESPN’s commitment to serving sports fans all year, every year,” said Rob King, ESPN Executive Editor-In-Chief, Special Projects. “This February, we are again showcasing our creative means of commemorating accomplishments of the past and amazing feats happening in real time.”

ESPN+ continues to feature its Black History Always Collection, a landing spot for a myriad of content. Also, Black History vignettes will air throughout the month across ESPN platforms with sports moments in Black History, Black Sports inventors and athletes making a difference, including within ESPN television studio shows such as SportsCenter, First Take, Get Up, This Just In, NFL Live, NFL Countdown, NBA Today and NBA Countdown.

Highlights for February on ESPN platforms, with more content to be announced throughout the month:

Celebrate Black Stories on ESPN+
The ESPN+ Black History Always Collection highlights existing and new content from ESPN and ESPN+ that elevates sport stories and content for and about Black athletes, fans and communities.

The Collection includes:

ESPN+ Originals

  • Breakaway: Maya Moore was one of the best women’s basketball players in the world when she stepped away from the sport for a remarkable reason — to fight for a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned. Breakaway chronicles a search for justice, and a relationship that changed the lives of two people forever.
  • 144: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 WNBA season was played in Bradenton, Fla., where 144 players across 12 teams spent the summer in a bubble. 144 is the inside story of what unfolded on and off the court over the tumultuous two-and-a-half month season, culled from the extensive, exclusive coverage by ESPN cameras.
  • Why Not Us: Southern Dance: The Why Not Us series highlights the ethos of being a student and student-athlete at an HBCU. For over 50 years, the Dolls have set the standard for collegiate dance lines nationwide. Powered by the booming sounds of the school’s marching band, the Human Jukebox, the Dancing Dolls push the envelope with every performance, creating unique choreography stemming from their diverse dance backgrounds. Beyond the field, the Dolls are role models in their communities and represent what it means to be strong Black women, pushing the culture with their talent and artistry.
  • I Run with Maud: A Promise. A Movement: On February 23, 2020, Ahmaud Arbery went for a run and never came home. For many Black distance runners nationwide, the viral video of Arbery’s killing was a cruel reminder of the dangers of running while Black. They pledged to “Run with Maud,” all the way to the 50th NYC Marathon, and until justice is served. I Run With Maud explores the layers of this pivotal moment in history and Arbery’s lasting impact

30 for 30 Films

  • The Dominican Dream: A portrait of Dominican immigrants in New York as seen through a loving family whose son, Felipe Lopez, was hailed as “The Dominican Michael Jordan.”


  • Fistful of Steel: The Rise of Bubba Wallace: A hate crime accusation at a NASCAR garage grips a nation. FBI agents find a door pull. ESPN still revisits the incident. Bubba Wallace and NASCAR drivers speak.
  • A Love Story: The daughter of an NHL superstar, a high school wrestling coach, a devastating diagnosis – these are the components in a story of unwavering love. As ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap reports, Brianna LaFontaine and Randel McCoy grew up just a few miles from each other on New York’s Long Island. But they were in different worlds. LaFontaine was raised in affluence, with a father–Pat LaFontaine–who was a superstar in the NHL. McCoy was raised working class by his single mother and then, after she died when he was seven, by his grandmother.

Subscribers can view the full Black History Always Collection here.

HBCU Events Year-Round Programming

    • ESPN is focused on a year-round commitment to HBCU athletics. We just completed a college football season with more than 100 HBCU games across ABC/ESPN platforms, culminating with the Celebration Bowl on ABC.
    • During the college basketball season ESPN linear and digital platforms will continue to showcase regular season games from the MEAC, SWAC, SIAC, CIAA and the Big South (Hampton, NC A&T) and OVC (Tennessee State).
    • College Basketball HBCU coverage this year includes games throughout the season.
      • Two HBCU tournaments: Chris Paul HBCU Tip-Off and Chris Paul’s HBCU Challenge.
      • NBA x HBCU Classic featuring Southern vs Grambling on Feb. 18 on ESPN2.
      • The MEAC, SWAC, SIAC and CIAA Men’s & Women’s Championships on linear networks and early round coverage on ESPN+.


  • NBA All-Star Content.
  • 17: Martenzie Johnson’s piece on Bill Russell Before he became an NBA icon, Bill Russell changed college basketball at the University of San Francisco.
  • David Dennis Jr. and Kelley Carter talk to Killer Mike in Atlanta about the 2003 All-Star game and how it introduced southern rap to the world.
    • HBCU Coverage
    • Week of Feb. 6: Profile of HBCU players in this year’s Super Bowl (pending final matchup).
    • Week of Feb. 13: Advance story on the NBA HBCU Classic 2023. Though lesser known, the basketball rivalry between Grambling and Southern is just as important as football to those in Louisiana and those close to the school. o
    • Week of Feb. 20: CIAA Tournament coverage to include a profile on the costs and fundraising for CIAA teams to travel to Baltimore, Title IX Trailblazers with the conference naming 50 people to be honored during the tournament, coverage of the games and winner, and social media and video coverage of the teams and their journey to Baltimore.
    • Week of Feb 20: HBCU Legacy Bowl player profile
    • Week of Feb. 27: NFL Combine profile on Black scouts for NFL teams and how they are fighting to break into NFL front offices.
    • TBD: Mia Berry story on Fisk University launching the first women’s gymnastics program at an HBCU. Berry will explore the undertaking of creating the program, recruiting and training the gymnasts and getting the program up to NCAA standards.

Other offerings on ESPN platforms include:


  • First Take will feature custom Black History Always vignettes during February. The vignettes feature notable Black History Moments and Athletes and are voiced by Stephen A. Smith and Christine Williamson.
  • First Take will also profile HBCU programs including Grambling State University and Spelman College.

SC Featured

  • On February 26, SportsCenter will feature Lady Wolves –The 1982 Cheyney State Lady Wolves basketball team is the FIRST and ONLY HBCU Women’s or Men’s Basketball program to compete in an NCAA Division I Final Four and has been officially nominated to the 2023 James Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ballot.


  • ESPN college basketball coverage will feature BHA storytelling through player vignettes and stories that tie to the venue or teams playing in a particular game.


  • Across ESPN NBA coverage, teams will integrate Black History Always historical and contemporary stories.


  • ESPN Audio will air “Forgotten Firsts” vignettes focused on key moments in history on and off the field and honoring those who have fought for and continue to create change. The vignettes are voiced by ESPN Radio host and NFL analyst Keyshawn Johnson.


  • Black History Always Hero Video sharing the words of Bill Russell with accompanying images showcasing decades of milestones of Black athletes.
  • Weekly “Breaking Barriers” carousels featuring Black athletes who transcended sports in new ways. (i.e., pop culture influence, social justice activism, etc.).
  • Weekly “Recognizing Pioneers” carousels and videos highlighting specific “firsts” in sports and popular culture.
  • Miniseries focused on “The Journey of the Black Gymnast” (Trinity Thomas, Derrian Gobourne, Jordan Chiles and Jaedyn Rucker).


  • Corrinne Tarver | Fisk University Gymnastics Feature: Corrinne Tarver was not only the first Black gymnast to compete for the University of Georgia — she was the first Black gymnast to win the NCAA All-Around title in 1989.  As a freshman, Tarver was a huge part of Georgia’s success in the late 80s and helped the Dawgs win their first national championship in 1987. She recently took a job as AD and Gymnastics coach at Fisk University in Nashville. Fisk is the first HBCU to have a gymnastics program. On Dr. King Day, Fisk competed in a meet at Georgia where Tarver returned “home” to Athens, leading her team in their inaugural season. This piece will debut on SEC Now on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 10:30 p.m. ET.
  • SEC Network will also air Black History Always vignettes about SEC trailblazers throughout the month.

ACC Network

  • All Access: The ACC Life – ACC Unite Selma to Montgomery.
  • Airing throughout the month: A 30-minute special from the All Access The ACC Life series (7 p.m., ACCN).
  • In July 2022, 48 student-athletes and administrators from the 15 ACC institutions traveled to Montgomery and Selma, Ala., for an immersive experience in a place that was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. One of the highlighted activities was a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge — the site of “Bloody Sunday” (March 7, 1965) — when civil-rights activists marched towards the state capital of Montgomery in protest for voting rights and were brutally attacked by police. This 30-minute All Access show takes the viewer along with the student-athletes as they experienced the weekend in Selma and Montgomery. The trip was part of the ACC’s social-justice platform, ACC UNITE.
  • ACC Network will air a series of features and vignettes related to Black History, featuring the stories of:
    • Lawrence Joel: For whom the Wake Forest basketball arena is named. Joel is the only Winston-Salem, N.C., native ever to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
    • The Syracuse 8: In 1969, nine Black football players at Syracuse University decided to boycott the football program to demand change and protest discrimination.
    • The Greensboro Four: Known as the “birthplace of the civil rights movement”, four students from NC A&T conducted the first lunch counter sit-in on February 1, 1960, at the Greensboro Woolworth Store.

Black and African American employee resource groups across Disney coming together to commemorate with a series of internal virtual events to inform, honor and celebrate Black joy.


Media contacts: Cecile Cross-Plummer [email protected]




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