Today marks the 62nd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision and ESPN has launched The Undefeated, a digital content platform exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture. It brings much joy to my heart to announce that ESPN has finally launched arguably one of my new favorite journalistic platforms to read. By launching today, on the 62nd anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, it gives you a sense of the kind of thought that has been put into making this platform come into fruition and the stories that will be told. When you think of how much the Brown v. Board of Education has affected the intersection of sports, race and culture, you’ll truly understand the power of having a media outlet that will now be covering just that. Literally, had Thurgood Marshall not argued this case many of the PWI’s that have powerhouse athletic programs wouldn’t exist, HBCU’s would be dominant in every sport, and the NBA might still be segregated which means there would’ve never been a Michael Jordan. Just thinking about never having Air Jordan makes me depressed, but thankfully Brown v. Board of Education happened and worked in the favor of making all of these things come into reality.
After eagerly awaiting the launch of The Undefeated, I woke up this morning and went straight to my laptop to begin reading many of the stories they had prepared for the big launch. I have been anxiously anticipating the launch since viewing the Dee-1 video announcement and listening to Clinton Yates, Justin Tinsley, and Jill Hudson speak about the site via their podcast on ESPN radio. Amongst many of the stories that I’ve managed to read today, there have been a few that really stood out to me and made me realize this is the outlet that was long overdue. Their tieing together of pop-culture, history, music, memes, and more while also having the lane to speak on sensitive topics like the past and present black injustices, speaks volumes.
This is not unexpected as, The Undefeated’s name is inspired by a passage from American poet, author, and civil rights leader Maya Angelou: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
“We Are The Undefeated.” —Kevin Merida
The exclusive interview they gained with Marshawn Lynch for the 36 Hours in Beast Mode article was incredible considering they were able to bond with Lynch, the Oakland, California community, and highlight the many elements of what Oakland, California is all about. Although this story gives you a sense of the vibe of the newly launched The Undefeated, the element of race and culture really kick in after reading, The Waco Horror article. This article covers an incident that dates back to approximately 100 years ago which involving a 19-year-old farmhand, Jesse Washington, who was lynched while an angry mob of 10,000 spectators watched the dismemberment of his charred remains and took pictures. Jesse Washington of The Undefeated (who shares the same name), bravely takes us down the path of understanding the significance of Jesse Washington’s story while also sharing details of his own story about how he received his name and why it means so much to him to carry it with pride no matter what.
Overall, The Undefeated will combine innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans, as well as sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related topics. To kick things off it launched with a commentary, “We Are The Undefeated” by editor-in-chief Kevin Merida – a declaration of its manifesto. Merida goes into great detail about the adversity his father took head on while on his journey to becoming a Geologist vs. just becoming a school teacher at the time and how he was able to overcome so much to accomplish his dream. Thankfully, his dream still lives on as his son Kevin Merida is taking on the challenge of launching a platform that fortunately has an awesome team behind it.
On that team includes Jerry Bembry, Karin Berry, Daniel Bohm, Danielle Cadet, Kelley L. Carter, Sabrina Clarke, Ryan Cortes, Cherisse Datu, Aaron Dodson, Kate Elazegui, Kelley Evans, Michael Fletcher, Domonique Foxworth, Kelsie Hartpence, Jill Hudson, Martenzie Johnson, Breana Jones, Maya Jones, Monis Khan, Brent Lewis, Marcus Matthews, Soraya McDonald, Ashley Melfi, John X. Miller, Morgan Moody, Lois Nam, Osman Noor, Lonnae O’Neal, Latoya Peterson, Jason Reid, Steve Reiss, Danyel Smith, Marc Spears, Brando Simeo Starkey, Vincent Thomas, Justin Tinsley, Rhiannon Walker, Jesse Washington, Caleb Wilkerson, Mike Wise, Mark Wright, and Clinton Yates.
Ultimately, I’m excited for what’s to come out of The Undefeated as nothing short of black excellence will be sure to follow. Especially when everyone involved in this legendary project continues to put hot coals into the fire to highlight the history in the making as well as the history that was lost. Thankfully now there is a platform that will be sure to be a beacon for the history that is being made now and to come. Definitely, be sure to check out their platform daily as there will be many surprises to come at TheUndefeated.com
Photos courtesy of The Undefeated