NFL teams participating in this weekend's Wild Card round honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by wearing "MLK" decals and the words "Be Love" on players' helmets. "Be Love" also was painted at one end zone for each venue.
The Vikings have initiated multiple "Be the Change" efforts and were proud to continue those efforts with a role in the Hashtag Sports Creators of Color Empowerment Summit this fall.
Kanyana Ternize had never been to Minnesota before. But when she touched down at MSP in September to participate in the Creators of Color Empowerment Summit, she knew a memorable and potentially life-changing experience awaited.
Visiting from New York, Ternize was one of 30 cohorts selected to participate in a three-day event celebrating and further educating talented next-gen sports and entertainment creatives identifying as Black, Asian, Latinx and People of Color.
The cohorts, which included Gabe Henderson and Maleah Pearson with the Vikings Entertainment Network, were selected from more than 1,000 applicants.
"I'm truly grateful for the Creators of Color program and the experience I had," Ternize said. "I appreciate the creative family I got to be a part of and remain in touch with. It was important for me to be able to open up and get to be a part of something bigger in the creative world, and it allowed me to broaden my network with some amazing and accomplished individuals."
The third-annual Creators of Color Empowerment Summitbegan Sept. 18 at Mayo Clinic Square, the headquarters of the Minnesota Lynx and Timberwolves. Creators of Color is a year-round recognition program and career enablement platform produced by Hashtag Sports that honors people of color ages 21 to 33 in sports content-creation roles nationwide.
Cohorts were welcomed with a creative competition followed by an "Ask Me Anything" conversation featuring Tru Pettigrew, Chief Impact Officer of the Timberwolves and Lynx; Meka Morris, Twins Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer; and Martin Nance, Vikings Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
Imani McCormick, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Associate for the Vikings and the team's project lead for the summit said collaborating with Hashtag Sports, the Lynx, Timberwolves and Twins was a rewarding experience.
"Being part of this programming from its inception and witnessing it come to life has been a truly rewarding journey," McCormick said. "But what made this experience exceptional was the chance to connect with and learn from 30 innovative and passionate creators."
The first day of the summit offered opportunities for creating campaign pitches tasked with strategizing ways to draw talent to the Twin Cities. Day 2 included a breakfast workshop, a stadium tour of Target Field, three panel discussions and Media Day at TCO Studios.
During Media Day, TikTok Content Creator Brooklyn McDaniels appreciated the opportunities to work in the podcast studio and conduct interviews on the same set that hosts Vikings programming.
"This is by far one of the most exhilarating days in my career thus far," McDaniels said. "The Vikings staff made us feel like we were right at home, as if we were these VIP celebrities coming into their space and they truly rolled out the red carpet."
Day 3 featured U.S. Bank Stadium and Target Center tours, as well as a networking breakfast.
Cohorts networked with Black Sports Professionals Twin Cities Chapter, Connext MSP, Elevate Our Network, NextUp Twin Cities Chapter, Playfessionals and WISE Twin Cities Chapter, as well as Minnesota United FC and the Minnesota Wild.
As her time in Minnesota concluded, Ternize explained what lessons she'll carry from her memorable three-day experience with Creators of Color.
"[A takeaway] from one of the panels had to do with not being timid to change, and to sometimes embrace it, as it can really help to promote the business and the fans it reaches," Ternize said. "In this day, I think that's important."