The historical origins of Black History Month are explained
Here’s why founder Carter G. Woodson created Black History Month and how it’s different today than he originally planned.
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In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports publishes the “29 Black Stories in 29 Days” series. We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities that continue to face Black athletes and sports officials as the nation reckons with race following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. This is the fourth part of the series.
Last week Darren Smith of KLKC radio in Kansas City, at Roger Goodell’s Super Bowl press conference, asked a simple question.
“As of this press conference, the NFL Media newsroom still employs zero black managers, zero black copy editors, zero black full-time news desk employees and your only black full-time employee, Larry Campbell , passed away over the weekend. ” said Smith. “How does it sit well with you knowing that and after two years of being asked that question, why haven’t there been any changes or hires in that area?”
The question was asked before, in recent years, by former NFL Media employee Jim Trotter. His contract was not renewed after those questions, and in return Trotter filed a discrimination lawsuit against the league.
“Well, I strongly disagree that there hasn’t been a difference,” Goodell responded. “I’m happy to take your data and share it with our people and make sure we get an answer for you. I don’t have all the data. I’ll tell you (for) the first time, 51 percent of our employees across the league, across the network, across all of our media platforms, not including the players, are either people of color or women.”
Trotter responded in part at X: “The facts are what they are: The NFL newsroom has zero black managers, zero black copy editors, and zero black full-time news desk employees. Those are facts. Nothing that he says doesn’t change that. Another fact, (Goodell) refuses to acknowledge: outside of reporters in the NFL newsroom, there are ZERO full-time black employees. In a league whose player population is majority black. Let that marinate for a minute. I didn’t ask (Smith) to ask that question, but I thank him for challenging (Goodell) and demanding that Goodell’s actions reflect his words.”
Now, here the story takes another turn.
On Friday, the National Association of Black Journalists criticized the NFL for the lack of diverse employment practices in its media division and demanded a meeting with that division’s executives and Roger Goodell, the league’s commissioner.
“The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is disappointed with the lack of progress in the NFL’s media hiring practices,” the organization said in a statement. “Just a few months short of a year since our initial outreach and call for change, the NFL continues to lack black reporters and communicators in its news division.
“In addition to the NABJ, others have sought answers from NFL executives, but no documented progress in the organization’s media diversity efforts has been made available.
“As we noted in our initial statement in May 2023, there has been no explanation for how the NFL has allowed the practice of exclusion to operate over the years.
“As a result, the NABJ media monitoring team is seeking an immediate meeting with NFL media executives and commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss what immediate actions they will take to correct the lack of diversity in his media department. “
Read more review: Yes, former NFL Network reporter Jim Trotter is still heroically fighting the league
“As the NFL prepares for one of the most watched events in the world, it should not be uncomfortable knowing that its news arm does not reflect the diversity of the players, audiences and attendees of the event. We are challenging the NFL to make a serious stance. efforts to address these disparities now,” NABJ President Ken Lemon and Vice Presidents Walter Smith Randolph and Kathy Chaney said in a joint statement. “A failure to move quickly to resolve this matter reflects an insensitivity to the importance of telling NFL stories from diverse voices.”
An NFL spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
One of the things that sometimes gets lost about Black History Month is that it’s not just about documenting the incredible accomplishments of Black Americans or what we’ve overcome. It is also the recognition that war goes on and that war is brutal and difficult and requires constant vigilance.
This is why what NABJ is doing is vital and important.
Will it work? The NFL will likely ignore what the NABJ has to say. How do I know this? Because the NFL has already ignored what the NABJ had to say.
The NFL rarely does what is right unless absolutely forced to. Again, Trotter and others have raised these concerns for years and little or nothing has changed. Trotter is right. The NFL just doesn’t care. If it did, we wouldn’t be talking about it yet.