via press release:

ESPN Black History Month Programming Includes Original Specials, Offerings Across Platforms

ESPN will commemorate Black History Month with multiple programming offerings on television and online celebrating the achievements of African-Americans who made a positive influence within their sport and in society. The month of February will include the premieres of three special programs.

Trailblazers; Past, Present and Future will team current African-American sports stars with living legends for intimate conversations on challenges overcome and still ahead. The program, hosted by John Saunders, airs Sunday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.

Longhorn Network will air the LBJ Library’s Reflections on Race, an evening with members of the “Little Rock Nine,” on Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 9 p.m. The program tells the story of nine African-American students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., following the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education declaring segregation unconstitutional. During the program, three members of the “Nine,” Ernest Green, Carlotta Walls LaNier and Terrence Roberts, recount their most personal experiences and share their reflections on race in America, then and now.

Longhorn Network also will premiere Through the Eyes of Texas: Integration on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 9:30 p.m. In this half-hour special, Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams looks back at how the state’s flagship university responded to integration. Through exclusive interviews from former students, historians, faculty and staff, this program uncovers compelling stories of the University of Texas’ desegregation and explores how the university community both influenced and responded to major historic events during that time.


The week of Feb. 8, SportsCenter and Outside the Lines will air a feature exploring why some athletes are now willing to be more politically outspoken when not long ago many were criticized for staying silent. As protests continue across the country against the police-involved shooting death of Michael Brown and the chokehold death of Eric Garner, more athletes are making their voices heard. From the St. Louis Rams “hands up; don’t shoot” gesture to the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts sported by some NBA players to Tweets about both cases, athletes are using their platforms to make political statements.

The Sunday, Feb. 15, SC Featured segment on SportsCenter examines the importance of football at an underprivileged high school in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that through re-zoning became economically and racially segregated. The segment debuts in the 10 a.m. program and repeats in subsequent airings throughout the day. An extended half-hour Central High special airs on ESPNU on Monday, Feb. 16, at 5:30 p.m.

Other Black History Month offerings on ESPN platforms include:

ESPN Audio – Athletes, coaches, ESPN commentators and analysts offering testimonials of what Black History Month means to them will air across ESPN Audio’s programming throughout the month of February.


ESPN the Magazine – In the “Gambling” issue of ESPN the Magazine on newsstands Feb. 6, columnist Howard Bryant talks with Arthur Carrington, who in the 1960’s was Arthur Ashe’s doubles partner and a historian of the American Tennis Association, the oldest black tennis organization in America, which discovered Ashe and Althea Gibson. Bryant writes about a man’s life and the American arc that followed, about unintended consequences of “progress,” the absorption of the black middle class into the mainstream without the representation of diversity in ownership that existed during segregation and some of the special black institutions and traditions that were lost on the way. — A number of features relating to Black History Month are planned, including:


·         In-depth on NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace, who is finally in a stable, fulltime ride in the Xfinity Series.

·         Katrina Adams, a former tennis standout, is the first African-American president of the USTA. Adams, who competed professionally against Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil and Pan Shriver, grew up in Chicago and is expected to have a huge impact on young African-Americans playing tennis. Prior to assuming her new position, she worked as a tennis commentator and was the executive director of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program.


From the Major League Baseball section:


·         David Schoenfield writes about the top 20 Negro League players of all time and their possible impact if they had been allowed to play in MLB.

·         Former Negro Leaguer Mahlon Duckett, who played 10 years for the Philadelphia Stars and is the last surviving member of the team, makes his selections for the All-Time Negro League Baseball team.

·         Howard Bryant on the challenges for MLBPA head Tony Clark.

·         Hall of Famer Effa Manley, whose story is being told by Penny Marshall in a new film next month in Savannah.

·         Orioles CF Adam Jones as the team’s clubhouse enforcer.

·         What does the success of the all-black Jackie Robinson West LL All-Stars tell us about MLB’s attempts to attract more African-Americans?

·         Russell Martin and the very small fraternity of black catchers in MLB history.


On Feb. 11, the 25th anniversary of Tyson-Douglas, in the boxing section:


·         Dan Rafael on Tyson-Douglas, in the fighters’ own words

·         Nigel Collins: What the upset meant for boxing, the heavyweight division

·         Video and photo gallery of Tyson-Douglas fight

·         Rafael: an update on Bernard Hopkins and his future plans at age 50.

·         Deontay Wilder, the new WBC heavyweight boxing champion, is a rising star in the sport. He recently defeated defending heavyweight champion Bermaine Stiverne in a unanimous decision in Las Vegas. The 6-7 Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs) has never fought past the fourth round. He is the first undefeated champion since Riddick Bowe in 1992 and the first American champion since Shannon Briggs won the title in 2006. — Writer Mechelle Voepel looks at what could be an enormous year for African-American women on golf’s LPGA Tour. Before this year, four African-American women had qualified for the tour, and recent qualifiers Sadena Parks and Cheyenne Woods have raised the number to six. The reporting examines what this development will mean for African-American girls and women in the sport of golf and why there have been so few African-Americans on tour up until now.

ESPN on Demand — An array of films, highlights and specials celebrating the influential accomplishments of African-Americans in sports will be featured, including:

·         51 Dons: The story of the 1951 season of the undefeated University of San Francisco Dons football team and their unique stand against racism by declining an invitation to play in the Orange Bowl under the condition that they would have to leave their African-American players Ollie Matson and Burl Toler home.

·         A Race Story: The story of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Wendell Scott, the first and only African-American to ever win a NASCAR premier series race.

·         The Secret Game: The film goes behind the scenes of a secret game that was arranged in 1944 between the all-white Duke University team and the team from N.C. College for Negroes, now North Carolina Central University.  With the Klan so active in Durham, N.C., at the time, the game remained a secret until this ESPN Films story.


·         Black Magic: A documentary about the history of basketball as played at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Posted by:TV BTN

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