The Undefeated, ESPN’s multimedia content initiative that explores the intersection of sports, race, and culture marks its fifth anniversary today.
Raina Kelley, The Undefeated’s recently named Vice President and Editor-In-Chief, reflects on the platform’s launch: “When we started on May 17, 2016, Muhammad Ali was still with us, Barack Obama was still the first Black president, and we weren’t yet afraid of trending hashtags or auto-start on our videos. Quarantine was a thing out of the movies.”
Five years later, The Undefeated has found its groove – delivering on its brand promise.
Front Row presents the initiative’s top 5 landmarks. Visit ESPN Press Room for The Undefeated’s full timeline of accomplishments.
CONVERSATION WITH THE PRESIDENT
One of the goals of The Undefeated is to engage the community it serves by convening forums to address topical issues in society. The Undefeated hosted A Conversation with President Barack Obama, a student forum moderated by SportsCenter anchor Stan Verrett. The forum with the first African American U.S. President, while he was in office, occurred at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 11, 2016.
RHODEN FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM: INCUBATING FUTURE JOURNALISTS OF COLOR
On Mar. 8, 2017, The Undefeated announced the inaugural class of Rhoden Fellows, a journalism internship program for aspiring African American journalists from HBCUs. Named after award-winning sports columnist William C. Rhoden, who joined ESPN and oversees the program, it is part of The Undefeated’s mission to train future journalists of color. The program is fully funded by The Walt Disney Company and ESPN.
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) October 19, 2020
#YOTBQG – MULTIPURPOSE ENTERPRISE JOURNALISM
Year of the Black Quarterback debuted Sept. 2, 2019 as a multiplatform series. Senior NFL writer Jason Reid and other contributors chronicle the story of Black quarterbacks. Throughout the season, #YOTBQB highlighted the emergence and growing prominence of Black quarterbacks, including their impact on perceptions of African Americans in leadership beyond the playing field. The digital series culminated in a critically acclaimed one-hour ESPN television special in February 2020.
The Stop: Living, Driving and Dying While Black&, a one-hour television special examined the relationship between Black communities and law enforcement, premiered on ESPN, Oct. 11, 2020. It is the 10th of 13 television specials produced by The Undefeated to date. Hosted by Ryan Smith, with contributions from LaChina Robinson and Marc Spears, The Stop earned The Undefeated two of its first three Sports Emmy nominations last month.
“BLACK HISTORY ALWAYS”
ESPN launched “Black History Always” initiative powered by The Undefeated on Jan. 28, 2021 – expanding sports, race, and culture content beyond the traditional 28 days of February’s Black History Month via quality storytelling on Black lives in America across ESPN and other Disney content units.
Kiana Lowe contributed to this post.