ESPN Launches Year Long Initiative “Black History Always” Focusing on Black Stories Across All Networks and Platforms

As the calendar approaches February and Black History Month, ESPN has announced the launch of Black History Always. The year long initiative is powered by The Undefeated and will feature exclusive content and offerings represented across all ESPN networks and platforms.



What’s Happening:

  • ESPN has announced the launch of “Black History Always,” a company-wide initiative that will focus on Black stories beyond Black History Month.
  • The initiative fittingly started on January 18th—Martin Luther King Jr. Day—and will continue throughout the year, with The Undefeated finding opportunities to explore and highlight relevant personal stories through Black History Always.
  • In addition to The Undefeated, ESPN’s networks and platforms will also feature content in the form of essays, specials, vignettes, interviews, and conversations.
  • These offerings will focus on a variety of subjects such as trailblazers in the Black community, equality, social justice and more.
  • The Black History Always celebration will continue year-round, every year.

What They’re Saying:

  • Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content: “ESPN has recognized Black History Month with special programming and events since 1995. 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.”
  • Raina Kelley, managing editor of The Undefeated: “We are asserting the commitment to supporting the Black sports community in all aspects: athletes on and off the court, storytelling and culture. 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.”



Black History Always Content and Programming

ESPN and ABC Television

January 31 (8 pm ET, ESPN) – Black History Always 

  • A half-hour program introducing the ESPN concept of “Black History Always.”
  • Hosted by The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates, the program will use 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.
  • The program will re-air on ABC at a later date.

February 28 (Noon, ESPN) – The Undefeated Presents: A Room of our Own

  • Groundbreaking hour of television that explores the relationship Black athletes have to music. Some of the music for the special will be from the “Music For The Movement/Black History Always” EP, set for release February 26th.
  • The program will re-air on ABC on Sunday, March 7.

The Undefeated

February 1 — Downloadable Black History Always Posters (

  • inspirational quotes by Black athletes such as:
    • Alyson Felix
    • Trae Young
    • Sloane Stephens
    • Bubba Wallace

February 2

  • Black NFL quarterback MVP’s
  • Black & Brilliant — Three digital short stories celebrating Black excellence in the community.

February 18 — March on Washington: Keepers of the Dream (10 pm)

  • Tracing the ongoing journey of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1960’s through the current fight for racial equality.
  • Produced by The Undefeated In partnership with National Geographic Studios and airing on National Geographic.

February 22 

  • The stories of struggles and triumphs of the players, both famous and unknown, who served as the “Jackie Robinson” of their respective pro teams.

February 25

  • The women of color impacting the sneaker industry.

The Undefeated Social Handles

Daily content related to Black History Always across The Undefeated’s social handles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram:

  • Tribute to Black coaches
  • This Day in Black History
  • Favorite moments in Black sports history from The Undefeated staff
  • More to be announced

First Take (ESPN, weekdays, 10 am)

  • ESPN’s popular morning debate show First Take will virtually showcase four HBCU’s with special shows every Wednesday during February:
    • Winston-Salem State University (February 3)
    • Howard University (February 10)
    • Morehouse College (February 17)
    • Jackson State University (February 24)
  • Moments in Black History vignettes, voiced by Stephen A. Smith, and produced by First Take and The Undefeated will also air during shows throughout February.
  • First Take video series featuring prominent athletes, coaches and more speaking on the personal impact and wide-ranging significance of Black History Month:
    • Natasha Cloud
    • Stephen Curry
    • Darius Leonard
    • Anthony Mackie
    • Doc Rivers

ACC Network  

From Trailblazers to What’s Next? (Monday, February 22 at 7 pm)

  • A one-hour virtual roundtable including five segments with a specific discussion for each.
  • Hosted by Dalen Cuff, the show will feature former ACC trailblazers, current coaches or administrators, and current student-athletes. All 15 schools will be represented.

Darcy Bourne Feature Story

  • A freshman Duke field hockey student-athlete from Esher, England. As a young Black woman, she attended a protest last summer in London and a picture of her carrying a sign “Why is Ending Racism a Debate?” went viral. Even as a freshman and new to the country, she was a leader on her team for social justice and racial equality.
  • The feature will air within In Play and in other studio programs from mid-February.

Longhorn Network

Kenneth Sims Conversation

  • Kenneth Sims, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December, was Texas’ first Lombardi Award winner and the first pick in the 1982 NFL Draft, discusses what his time at the University of Texas was like for a Black man.

Logan Eggleston & Asjia O’Neal

  • UT volleyball players Logan Eggleston and Asjia O’Neal were among many other Texas athletes who were outspoken about making changes to UT’s campus to make it a more inclusive campus for students of color.

LBJ Library Presents

  • Each Monday throughout the month of February, Longhorn Network will feature back-to-back hour-long specials highlighting notable Black figures, including Valerie Jarret, Hank Aaron and Kevin Durant.

LBJ Presents: Darren Walker (Monday, February 15, at 9 pm)

  • Walker, a member of the first class of Head Start in 1965 and Texas graduate speaks on his mission to shift the foundations of philanthropy from generosity to social justice.
  • The discussion is moderated by Dr. Victoria Soto, an assistant dean in the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Racial Geography Tour

  • Texas student-athletes released a list of requests to UT Administration last summer in an effort to make UT a more welcoming campus for Black students.
  • Tours of UT Austin are being conducted that show how racism, patriarchy, and politics are baked into the landscape and architecture of the campus.


  • Various Texas student athletes on the importance of their voice in the fight for social justice.

SEC Network

Beyond the Whiteboard: SEC Coaches Conversation (Monday, February 22 at 8:30 pm ET) 

  • Maria Taylor sits with six Black women who are head women’s basketball coaches in the SEC:
    • Nikki Fargas (LSU)
    • Nikki McCray-Penson (Mississippi State),
    • Yolett McPhee-McCuin (Ole Miss)
    • Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
    • Joni Taylor (Georgia)
    • Terri Williams-Flournoy (Auburn)
  • Featured discussion topics include:
    • Racial injustice
    • Black women in leadership on and off the court
    • Importance of trailblazers in the sport
    • And more
  • Kentucky interim head coach Kyra Elzy also provides her perspective.

Breaking the Barrier (Monday, February 1 at 8 pm)

  • A half-hour special, originally filmed in 2018, celebrating the Southeastern Conference’s integration pioneers.
  • Hosted by Maria Taylor, Football pioneers Mel Page (representing his late brother, Greg) Nate Northington, the late Houston Hogg, and Wilbur Hackett played an essential part in the integration of SEC athletics.

SEC Storied 

SEC Network will kick off the month with the re-airing of two SEC Storied films immediately following Breaking the Barrier on Monday, February 1:

  • SEC Storied: The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story – Explores the story of Condredge Holloway, the first Black quarterback at an SEC school (University of Tennessee).
  • SEC Storied: Croom – Shares the story of Sylvester Croom, the first African-American center at the University of Alabama and one of the school’s first Black players.

SEC Network Celebrates Black History Always

  • The network shares a series of vignettes about SEC trailblazers set to air throughout the month of February across linear, digital and social platforms.

  • Racial and Social Equality hub – a website where the latest equity efforts from across the Southeastern Conference can be easily accessed and explored.

ESPN Deportes

  • Somos Afro-Latinos (Thursday, February 18. at 7 pm)
  • A special that will bring together a lineup of Afro-Latino athletes from the U.S. and Latin America, from across sports and generations, for a conversation on the intersection of race and the Latino culture.
  • The one-hour program will be co-hosted by ESPN’s baseball analyst Eddie Perez and ESPN FC co-host Alexis Nunes
  • The program will re-air Thursday, February 25, at 10 pm.


Taneka Sandiford as-told-to: Essay (early February)

  • Sandiford, 25, is the first Black Bahamian female caddie on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour.
  • Diagnosed with MS in 2018, Sandiford shares in her essay how the diagnosis shook her to her core, but how she pushed through to pursue the game she loves by caddying for Amy Olson.

Around the Rim Presents: 

  • “I’m Speaking” with LaChina Robinson debuts with accompanying essay.

SC Featured

“Black Diamond,” A Black History Always-Themed Feature (Sunday, February 28)

  • At a time when African Americans on the ski slopes were a rarity and black ski clubs were an exception, Ben Finley and Art Clay were not deterred from their vision to create a national Black Ski Summit. In 1973, they brought together 13 black ski clubs for an event at the summit of Ajax Mountain, forming the National Brotherhood of Skiers (NBS).
  • SC Featured will dive into the history of the NBS.

UFC on ESPN/ESPN+ (February 11, February 23 at 9 pm on ESPNEWS)

The UFC is celebrating Black History Month with a look at some of the most astonishing knockouts to come from the UFC’s deep roster of Black athletes.

Ultimate Knockouts: Black History Month – Epic Knockouts 

  • Athletes include: Derrick Lewis, Francis Ngannou, Joaquin Buckley, Kevin Holland and more.

UFC Ultimate Knockouts: Black History Month – Classics 

  • Classic knockouts featuring Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson, Gary Goodridge, and more.

ESPN Social Handles

  • Highlighting 28 athletes and coaches throughout the month of February through a combination of daily and weekly posts across:
  • The campaign will continue with additional athletes at various times throughout the year in the spirit of Black History Always.
  • Throughout the month of February, other ESPN programs and platforms will have content related to Black History Always including:
    • SportsCenter
    • Get Up!
    • NFL Live
    • The Jump
    • NBA Countdown
    • ESPN Radio
    • ESPN Audio Podcasts
    • ESPN Classic
    • And More
  • Black History Always Vignettes that began on MLK Day will continue throughout Black History Always and will include sports moments in Black History, Black Sports inventors and athletes making a difference.


  • ESPN’s Black and African American employee resource group, PULSE, will recognize the month with a series of internal virtual events focusing on unity, commemoration and celebration.
  • PULSE also is supporting ESPN Corporate Citizenship’s new relationship with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance for a mentoring program to support boys and young men of color.