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ESPN Launches Year Long “Black History Always” Initiative

The Undefeated commissioned the above images for the “Music For The Movement/Black History Always” EP. They are (L-R) Winter in America, performed by Freddie Gibbs, cover artwork by Matthew Dicks; Wake Up Everybody, performed by Tobe Nwigwe, cover artwork by Cristina Martinez; and Eden, performed by Brent Faiyaz, cover artwork by Mike Reesé.

February 5, 2021 

Beyond Sport Global Partner ESPN has launched “Black History Always,” a company-wide content commitment initiative to highlight Black stories well beyond the US's traditional recognition of Black History Month in February. The celebration will continue year-round, every year with television specials, features and digital content.

Powered by The Undefeated, ESPN’s content initiative exploring the intersections of sports, race and culture, Black History Always launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18) with a series of vignettes featuring well-known athletes and coaches appearing across ESPN television and digital platforms.

On January 31, ESPN aired a half-hour special on the initiative that used a mix of new productions, music and other elements to show that sports are always writing Black history and what it means to be game-changing. At the start of Black History Month, it noted online:

"From Bubba Wallace to Maya Moore, Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick, sports figures have continued to break barriers in the fight for equality. We applaud those who have pushed the world forward, and chose to not simply stick to sports." 

Going forward, The Undefeated will identify opportunities throughout the year to resurface and integrate relevant content under the Black History Always theme. It will include sports moments in Black History, Black Sports inventors and athletes making a difference.

“We are asserting the commitment to supporting the Black sports community in all aspects: athletes on and off the court, storytelling and culture,” said Raina Kelley, managing editor of The Undefeated, who is overseeing the Black History Always initiative. 

“This initiative will highlight moments and stories on and off the field that empower and inspire; moments of athletic heroism and moral heroism; moments that signify change and progress, and moments that show us how much work is still to be done. We want to show Black fans that we are always there for them, we represent and reflect them, and we celebrate and appreciate them.” 

Content will be featured across ESPN's platforms, with highlights including: "Black & Brilliant", three digital short stories celebrating Black excellence in the community; the stories of struggles and triumphs of the players who served as the “Jackie Robinson” of their respective pro teams; and, a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement, "March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream" produced in partnership with National Geographic Studios. 

“ESPN has recognized Black History Month with special programming and events since 1995,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “For Black History Always, we are expanding that commitment by further leaning into what The Undefeated already does, deepening our celebration of Black History across all ESPN platforms year-round.” 

Some description
A new EP from ESPN’s The Undefeated, Music For The Movement/Black History Always is set to be released on February 26 - the second volume of the ongoing project between The Undefeated and Hollywood Records. Volume II balances the realities of Black America’s continued struggles, while also celebrating Black beauty and offering messages of hope.



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