Sports gear that tells a story How Nike contributes to Black History Month

Adam Zerman, Herald Contributor

In 1976, the U.S. government officially recognized February as Black History Month (BHM). Starting in 2005, Nike dedicated itself to supporting BHM along with black pride and black heritage. 

When Nike released its first BHM line, the company only released one shoe, an all-white Air Force 1 with red accents and the Pan-African flag on the back. Since its inception, Nike has continued to update the BHM line year after year. 

Today, Nike not only releases multiple shoes but clothing items as well. Every year, the BHM line features different themes and designs with a different storyline. Over the last 15 years, BHM products have ranged across many different sports. Some of these include basketball, football, soccer, running, skateboarding and tennis, with signature shoes for athletes in each sport.

“The collection grows each year with original stories and design features, influenced by Nike’s employees. Those who work on the BHM committee curate the creative narrative, prints and colors,” the company stated on its Nike News website.

“Each year we highlight unique elements of Pan-African heritage with our Black History Month collection,” said Nike Designer Jonathan Johnsongriffin. He has assisted in the BHM product design for the last six years.

This year’s BHM slogan is “Until We All Win.” It features a line of shoes including the Air Force 1, Converse Pro, Chuck Taylor and Air Max 95. There is also a wide range of clothing. 

The storyline for the products is split up into three cities: New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Featured leaders from each of these cities include Nigel Sylvester, a BMX rider (NYC); McKinley Nelson, founder of Project WISH (Chicago); and Amanda Gorman, the inaugural youth poet laureate of the United States (LA). 

Each shoe in this year’s line has little details that add to the story of Black History Month. The color-blocked paneling is “a nod to the early ’90s street style and the African textiles that inspired it,” according to Nike. Also, the thread hanging from the swoosh on this year’s Air Force 1 is said to “celebrate the common connections shared through sport while offering the opportunity to personalize each pair and create an ongoing dialogue.” 

The minor details that go into these shoes make Nike’s BHM project more meaningful. It allows people to celebrate BHM in a new and creative way.