3 Easy Ways to Celebrate Juneteenth in Youth Sports

By Melissa Wickes
June 17, 2024
3 min

Wednesday is Juneteenth—which marks the day in 1865 when news of the freedom of enslaved African Americans in the United States reached those in Texas. In other words, Juneteenth is the day the slaves were actually freed in the US.  

Yet, it is a reminder of this country’s ongoing journey toward racial equality and justice—so we wanted to make a quick guide for you to celebrate with your teams this year. 

Here are 3 ways you and your youth sports teams can celebrate Juneteenth 2024. 

Recognize Impactful Black Athletes Through History

These athletes, though not as widely recognized as some of their peers, have made significant contributions to their sports and have used their platforms to advocate for social justice, civil rights, and equality. Highlighting their stories during Juneteenth can provide a deeper understanding of the diverse and impactful contributions of African American athletes.

John Carlos (Track and Field)

John Carlos is best known for his Black Power salute on the podium at the 1968 Olympics, alongside Tommie Smith. This powerful gesture brought international attention to the civil rights movement and the struggle for racial equality.

Wyomia Tyus (Track and Field)

Wyomia Tyus was the first person to retain the Olympic title in the 100 meters, winning gold in both 1964 and 1968. She dedicated her 1968 gold medal to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, showing solidarity with their protest.

Maya Moore (Basketball)

Maya Moore is a WNBA star who took a hiatus from basketball to focus on criminal justice reform. She played a crucial role in securing the release of Jonathan Irons, a man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for over 20 years.

Arthur Ashe (Tennis)

Arthur Ashe was the first African American male to win Grand Slam titles. Off the court, Ashe was an advocate for civil rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, and education. He used his platform to address social injustices and health issues.

Marion Motley (Football)

Marion Motley was one of the first African Americans to play professional football in the modern era, joining the Cleveland Browns in 1946. He broke racial barriers in the NFL and was a dominant player during his career.

Alice Coachman (Track and Field)

Alice Coachman was the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, achieving this feat in the high jump at the 1948 London Olympics. She paved the way for future generations of African American female athletes.

Charlie Sifford (Golf)

Charlie Sifford was the first African American to play on the PGA Tour. He faced significant racial discrimination but persevered to win two PGA Tour events and pave the way for future African American golfers.

Lusia Harris (Basketball):

Lusia Harris was one of the pioneers of women’s basketball and the first woman officially drafted by an NBA team. She led her college team to three national championships and won a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics.

Fritz Pollard (Football)

Fritz Pollard was the first African American head coach in the NFL and one of the first African American players in the league. He was a trailblazer who fought against racial barriers in professional football.

Test Yourself for Hidden Bias 

Implicit biases are the subconscious biases we all have that influence how we respond to others—and whether you realize it or not, it could affect the way you do your job. 

Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington created “Project Implicit” to develop Hidden Bias Tests—called Implicit Association Tests, or IATs, in the academic world—to measure it.

Click here to take the quiz.

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