On Sunday, Jan. 31, ESPN will air Black History Always (8 p.m. ET), a half-hour program helping launch ESPN’s company-wide content initiative of the same name that intends to highlight Black stories beyond the traditional Black History Month in February.
Hosted by The Undefeated’s Clinton Yates, the program uses a mix of new productions, music, and other elements to show that sports are always writing Black history and what it means to be game-changing.
Lois Nam, who has been a producer for The Undefeated since its launch in 2016, is producing the special from her home in the Washington, D.C., area while working with ESPN colleagues in Connecticut and Los Angeles.
“There are lots of people behind the scenes working on this, and I’m just making sure it comes together seamlessly,” she said.
After getting the assignment about two weeks ago, Nam said she spent a lot of time going through previous pieces from The Undefeated.
“It was a pretty quick turn from a production sense, but my role has actually been easier because for this show, we didn’t have to put it together from scratch,” she said. “We have been producing content related to Black history, remembering Black history, and remembering current history being made, since The Undefeated’s inception. I joined almost five years ago, but The Undefeated was creating content before I came.
“So I think my job was a matter of identifying, from amongst all the content we have, which items would be great to highlight for this initiative specifically,” she said. “That meant going through the lists of things that we had and seeing how to build a narrative between the many different elements.
“Part of it was we obviously want to highlight the key sports that Black athletes have made an impact on – the NBA, WNBA, NFL – but showing that it’s not just those sports, it’s also sports that they’ve been making a splash in that are going under the radar.
“For example, there’s a story about two young Black polo players who are really making a name for themselves,” she said. “Golf still is not really a sport that many Black people have much access to, so we also mentioned Black golfers starting with HBCU students who have a golf program at their school.
“We tried to show the ways that Black athletes have historically fought several battles, individually and collectively, that have nothing to do with playing the sport itself and how they have risen above it and continue to do so.”
In addition to Yates, among the voices in the feature are William Rhoden, award-winning contributor for The Undefeated; Kimberley A. Martin, ESPN NFL Reporter; Ryan Clark, ESPN NFL Analyst; and Michael Fletcher, contributor for The Undefeated. The program will re-air on ABC on Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m.