The Vikings will celebrate perseverance and recognize accomplishments in observance of Black History Month by providing daily content throughout February.
Beginning today, the team will launch a microsite www.vikings.com/bhm specifically designed as a repository for video and written content posted each day for the next four weeks. The project attempts to explore the progressive role sports has played in society and examine where we have been, where we are currently and where are we going. Fans can expect to see stories of past tribulations as well as the triumphs that followed.
"This series is a great example of the Vikings organization using its significant platform in a positive way," said Vikings Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Warren. "Our Vikings Entertainment Network crew has worked extremely hard to gather content that will raise awareness and educate fans on the tragic situations that occurred in the past and the strides the African-American community has since made."
The following examples highlight the content fans will find throughout the month:
-Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page speaks with grace and eloquence in chronicling centuries of the African American experience during an on-camera interview with Mark Rosen. Page displays articles from a collection that includes a slave-made brick originally used in the White House and a sign that was displayed alongside train tracks as President Abraham Lincoln's body was returned to Illinois in 1865. One side of the sign reads, "UNCLE ABE, WE WILL NOT FORGET YOU!," and the other side reads, "OUR COUNTRY SHALL BE ONE COUNTRY."
-Jim Marshall, an original Viking and the grandson of a freed slave from Ethiopia who married an Irish lady, describes the unpleasant welcome that he and black Vikings teammates endured when traveling to Atlanta for an exhibition game and how the first Vikings Head Coach, Norm Van Brocklin, responded.
-Carl Eller and Greg Coleman explain what they encountered while growing up in a segregated South. Eller, who was refused service at the front window of a roadside restaurant during his youth, later participated in the sit-in movement in his home state of North Carolina. Coleman eventually showed people who wouldn't let his youth football team play in the Gator Bowl that he could punt for several seasons in NFL stadiums.
-Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who has sincere passion for history and earned a college degree in African American studies, along with wide receiver Greg Jennings and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, will share on camera an appreciation for opportunities experienced because of the progress achieved by others.
-Dennis Green, who became the second African American Head Coach in the modern NFL when hired by the Vikings in 1992, recalls seeing the Civil Rights Movement unfold during his teen years in the 1960s and the opportunities on which he tried to capitalize.
The site also will spotlight several moments from the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century, including the sit-in at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., that began Feb. 1, 1960.
About Black History Month
One hundred years ago, historian Carter G. Woodson, who overcame being born into poverty and earned a Harvard education, wanted to recognize contributions of African Americans that he thought were being omitted from history books. He partnered with Minister Jesse E. Moorland to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNHL).
The organization sponsored a national Negro History Week in 1926, selecting February in correlation to the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12, 1809) and the birthday observance of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave that became a leading abolitionist and eventually a U.S. government official. (The exact date and year of Douglass' birth was unknown but believed to be in 1818. He died Feb. 20, 1895, after championing for equal rights for all).
A longer period of recognition developed over the years, and President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976.