"If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world..."
So sayeth Carter Godwin Wilson - the man credited with highlighting the history of a race so integral, so vitally entrenched in the cultural and social makeup of our age's most powerful country. Black History Month was established in 1926 to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas and has thereafter been a celebration of black culture, history and accomplishments.
As so concisely remarked upon by Wilson, knowledge of one's history is an existential imperative. Without roots, we have no foundation upon which to grow and flourish. It's especially crucial to the youth as a strong sense of identity and self-worth often paves the way for greatness.
Since 2005, Nike has celebrated Black History Month with the release of special edition footwear and sporting attire. A leap and a bound away from their single commemorative Air Force 1 in 2005, Nike's Black History Month collection has evolved extensively and this year the brand pays homage to the achievements of black athletes with a sport-spanning range of footwear and apparel.
Serena Williams' meteoric rise and perpetual drive to defy expectations and redefine a sport; Kobe Bryant's otherworldly 81-point game for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2006; Sanya Richards-Ross' scintillating 400m race to Olympic gold glory; Chris Paul's off-court tenacity in the name of his beloved sport - these pivotal performances and iconic individuals made an undeniable mark on sporting history and are a source of pride and solidarity for an entire community. They also serve as the driving inspiration behind Nike's 2016 Black History Month collection.
The essence of these Titans of sport is crystallised and made tangible in the form of distinctive trainers, both practical and cool. The first in a line of staggered releases includes the LEBRON 13, KD8, KYRIE 2 and the KOBE 11.
Black History Month is an opportunity to reinforce the importance of identity and Nike's position at the forefront of street fashion and sportswear means they have a direct influence over huge parts of the community. The initial release of basketball sneaks come in all sizes, so the ever-important youth can champion the ideals of Black History Month in a way that gives them über playground credibility.
Beyond basketball sneakers, the collection features NikeCourt flare tennis footwear, Streak LT3 running shoes, Air Jordan 1 Nouveau and AJ1 high tops for girls and (dropping in February) a range of apparel - all complete with distinctive pan-African colour-ways and patterns. The Black History Month collection supports and finances a multitude of organisations - namely Nike's Ever Higher Fund - for the misrepresented African-American youth.
This celebration of the countless, seismic feats of black athletes by way of sneaker, shirt and street style is not to be slept on.
Features Editor | SAMSON