We are almost to the end of February, which means the end of Black History Month, but that doesn’t mean that homages and tributes are slowing down.
University of Texas Arlington’s men’s basketball team has been paying these tributes all month. Having debuted a new shirt when the team came out for warm-ups for their game against University of Louisiana on February 1st.
Designed by Matt McGann, the video coordinator for the team, he wanted to spark a conversation and continue to honor the month. Inspired by the school’s previous collaboration with the NBA for equality-centered shirts. He decided to design something new for Black History Month.
The Design Was Quite Unique
The black t-shirts are adorned with two gold, horizontal bars on the chest. The top bar reads, “Ask me about”. And the second bar sports a name depending on who the player wearing the shirt wants to represent. i.e. “Ask me about Rosa Parks”.
The back of the shirt has a quote from Kobe Bryant, the late NBA legend, that says, “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”
McGann began brainstorming while the team was on the road for a game at Texas State University on January 25th. Really wanting to figure out what kind of message the team wanted to send with their gear.
Once he had the basic design done, each team member, including coaches and supporting staff, were able to choose their own historical figure to represent. McGann knew that each person wanted to make sure the message was still able to be shared, no matter who the person chose to represent.
Even more, once they had chosen their figures to cover, every member gave a presentation on the person to teach and educate their peers about their lives.
The Goal; Simple. The Effect; Huge
The goal was to continue teaching about these important figures and learn something new themselves. Some examples of figures chosen were Nelson Mandela by junior guard, Davis Steelman. Who chose Mandela after visiting South Africa and visiting the Nelson Mandela Museum.
Sam Griffin, freshman guard, chose late-rapper, Nipsey Hussle, as he was inspired by the rapper’s messages of reducing black-on-black crime.
While each person and presentation was different, the goal was still the same: spreading a message about progress and equality. Most importantly how we can honor those who have paved the way for us as we continue on ourselves.
Though this month is coming to an end, this does not mean we have to stop honoring these figures and people who have done so much good work in our world.
February does not have to be the one time we honor their memory; we can work every day to keep change going, and keep our eyes on the future.