Athletics Pays Tribute to Black History Month
Lincoln, NE – Through the programming of numerous events and tributes over a 28-day span, Nebraska Athletics joined the rest of the nation in celebrating Black History Month this past February. The festivities included commemorative Black culture jerseys donned by the men’s basketball team, a social media campaign featuring African-American alumni, a halftime step-dancing show during a Husker women’s hoops game, and a Black History Month Arts Showcase to cap it all off.
“Nebraska Athletics has always strived towards an intentional effort to both celebrate and embrace Black History Month,” said DaWon Baker, Nebraska Athletics’ Diversity & Inclusion Director.
“We celebrate and embrace Black History Month to show that Black history is world history, and this month is a spotlight to the contributions that Black culture has, and will continue to make.”
Celebrating Black Culture Jerseys
For select contests in February, Nebraska men’s basketball modeled a unique set of uniforms in honor of Black History Month. Dubbed the “Celebrating Black Culture Jerseys,” the Huskers debuted the uniforms on the road against Illinois on Feb. 2. Inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, Nebraska also sported the commemorative gear during four additional games over the course of the month.
African-American Alumni Twitter Tribute
As the monthly calendar progressed, the Nebraska Huskers Twitter account also got in on the action. In a salute to Black History Month, a series of tweets were posted throughout the month of February to honor former African-American Huskers. This social media blast contained tributes to Charlie Greene (Track & Field, 1965-67), Will Shields (Football, 1989-92), Robert Brown (1961-64), and others.
NPHC Women’s Basketball Halftime Performance
Nebraska Women’s Basketball contributed to the festivities with an honorary halftime performance during a Feb. 17 home victory over Michigan State. For the entertainment between halves, the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) partnered with Nebraska Athletics to deliver a step show showcasing local members of the Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO’s). The NPHC serves as the collective body representing BGLO’s, whose membership includes numerous Husker student-athletes, both past and present.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Fraternity, Inc. comprise five of the nine members of the NPHC that performed in the unique halftime step show. The NPHC utilizes stepping, or step shows, as a tribute to the organization’s African roots that trace back to the early 1900’s. Additional information about the organizations within the NPHC can be found here.
Inaugural Arts Showcase
The month-long celebration of African-American culture culminated on February 28, when Nebraska Athletics partnered with the Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services (OASIS) and the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) to produce the inaugural Black History Month Arts Showcase. Hosted inside Memorial Stadium, the event brought over 150 students, staff, and community members together to pay tribute to Black history and culture through art.
The Showcase featured appearances from junior defensive back Tony Butler and senior Track & Field student-athlete Angela Mercurio. Butler served as the host for the event, while Mercurio took her talents to the spotlight, sharing some of her own poetry with the crowd.
“Black culture is embedded in everything, whether we want to accept it or not,” said Butler, speaking of the purpose behind the Showcase.
“It’s important to be able to understand that Black culture has done so much for music and poetry and all sorts of different things and to just take a step back to really appreciate the space that was created by African Americans.”
Turning the Page
As the calendar turns to March, Nebraska Athletics and Husker Life Skills invite you to continue to honor and appreciate African-American culture in all that you do. Although February was Black History Month, it is essential for us to view every day as an opportunity to learn and understand more about those around us.
“I think it’s important for anyone to celebrate the cultures and histories they are connected to, and even if they’re not connected to them, to be interested in learning about and discovering new ones,” said Mercurio.
“For Nebraska Athletics, as part of the larger community and as a tool that brings so many different people from different parts of the country and world to Nebraska, it is important that they specifically honor all those people.”
Moving forward, Nebraska Athletics will be celebrating Women’s History Month over the course of March. This will entail women’s self-defense classes, a Women Supporting Women networking event, a Women Leaders in College Sports Staff Professional Development webinar, and more. We encourage you to be on the lookout for these great opportunities as we continue to advance Nebraska Athletics’ mission of pursuing unity of purpose and giving respect to all those we encounter.