Just 3% of L.A. landmarks are linked to Black history. One project aims to change that

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St. Elmo Village, an artists’ enclave occupying a compound of 10 Craftsman bungalows, was founded in 1969 by artists Roderick and Rozzell Sykes as a place where children and adults could explore their creativity. The site is one of L.A.'s few designated landmarks linked to Black heritage.

MAKEDA EASTER, Los Angeles Times

Getty and the city of Los Angeles are expected to announce Tuesday the launch of the African American Historic Places Project, a three-year initiative to identify and preserve landmarks that represent Black heritage across L.A.

Led by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Office of Historic Resources within L.A.’s Department of City Planning, the project will address a disparity in local landmark designations: Only about 3% are connected to African American heritage. The goal of the project is to more accurately reflect the history of the city.

The Office of Historic Resources knows that its landmark designation programs do not yet reflect “the diversity and richness of the African American experience in Los Angeles,” said Ken Bernstein, principal city planner and manager of the office. “There’s much work to be done to rectify that disparity and ensure that the heritage of African Americans in Los Angeles is fully woven into our historic designation, and recognition of historic places in Los Angeles.”

The project is a continuation of a nearly 20-year partnership between the Getty Conservation Institute and the city on local heritage projects.

In 2005, a city-matched grant of $2.5 million from the GCI launched a program to identify and map places of social importance, including historic districts, bridges, parks and streetscapes.

Data from surveys conducted between 2010 and 2017 led to the creation of HistoricPlacesLA, a digital portal designed to inventory, map and contextualize the city’s cultural heritage sites. In 2018, the Office of Historic Resources developed a model to guide preservation work in Black communities, using themes including civil rights, religion and spirituality and visual arts.

Click here to read the full article on Los Angeles Times.

Beyoncé Just Became The First Black Woman To Wear The Iconic Tiffany Diamond

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Beyonce wearing the Tiffany Diamond

By , NPR

Singer Beyoncé and her rapper husband Jay-Z are once again turning heads. And this time, they’re making history too.

The powerhouse couple is the new face of a Tiffany & Co. ad campaign “celebrating modern love,” the luxury jeweler announced Monday.

Photos from the ABOUT LOVE campaign — including several shared on Beyoncé’s Instagram account — are drawing admiration across social media, both for the stunning images and for the historic firsts they represent.

Beyoncé can be seen wearing a large yellow diamond necklace in the photos. That’s the iconic 128-carat Tiffany Diamond, which the company acquired in 1878 and rarely puts on display. (Audrey Hepburn famously wore it in publicity photos for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Lady Gaga wore it to the 2019 Academy Awards.)

Beyoncé is only the fourth woman, and the first Black woman, to wear the diamond in more than a century.

That’s not the only milestone. Some of the photos show the couple posed in front of a large turquoise painting — Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Equals Pi. The 1982 work came from a private collection and has never been seen before in public, according to Tiffany.

This is also a personal first for the Carters. It’s the first campaign they’ve appeared in together, and Tiffany describes it as “an exploration of connection and vulnerability.” Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who got married in 2008, have a well-documented history of ups and downs, which NPR Music’s Rodney Carmichael walks us through here.

“Ushering in a new brand identity, this campaign embodies the beauty of love through time and all its diverse facets, forging a new vision of love today,” the company said.

Tiffany & Co. is also pledging $2 million toward scholarship and internship programs for historically Black colleges and universities, with more details on the initiative to come.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Josephine Baker to become first Black woman to enter France’s Panthéon

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Franco-American entertainer Josephine Baker receiving the Légion d’honneur and the Croix de Guerre after the second world war.

By the Guardian

The remains of Josephine Baker, a famed French-American dancer, singer and actor who also worked with the French resistance during the second world war, will be moved to the Panthéon mausoleum in November, according to an aide to President Emmanuel Macron.

It will make Baker, who was born in Missouri in 1906 and buried in Monaco in 1975, the first Black woman to be laid to rest in the hallowed Parisian monument.

A group campaigning for her induction, which included one of Baker’s sons, met Macron on 21 July, Jennifer Guesdon, one of the members, said. “When the president said yes, [it was a] great joy,” she said.

“Panthéonisation is built over a long period of time,” an aide to Macron said.

The Baker family have been requesting her induction since 2013, with a petition gathering about 38,000 signatures.

“She was an artist, the first Black international star, a muse of the cubists, a resistance fighter during the second world war in the French army, active alongside Martin Luther King in the civil rights fight,” the petition says.

Another member of the campaign group, Pascal Bruckner, said Baker “is a symbol of a France that is not racist, contrary to what some media groups say”, as well as “a true anti-fascist”.

The ceremony will take place on 30 November, the date Baker married Jean Lion, a Frenchman, allowing her to get French nationality.

The Panthéon is a memorial complex for great national figures in French history from the world of politics, culture and science.

Only the president can choose to move remains to the former church in Paris, whose grand columns and domed roof were inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

Of the 80 figures in the Panthéon, only five are women, including the last inductee in 2018, Simone Veil, a former French minister who survived the Holocaust and fought for abortion rights.

Click here to read the full article on the Guardian.

All the Black women in us are tired

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black women athletes Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, and Sha'Carri Richardson

By , CNN

The other day I shared a meme that stoked a lot of emotion.

In it, there are pictures of three superstar athletes – tennis player Naomi Osaka, gymnast Simone Biles and track and field sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson – along with a sign that reads, “Y’all Not Gone Stress Us Out – Black Women Everywhere.”

They are women of color (Osaka has a Japanese mother and a Haitian father while Biles and Richardson are African American) and have made headlines recently due to decisions they made to support their mental health.

All three also have something in common which I very much understand – the struggle women of color face in exercising self-care.

As I wrote in the caption of the meme I shared on Instagram, it’s hard being a Black woman.

“We are supposed to save relationships, families, elections, communities, democracy and basically the world all while exhibiting “black girl magic,” but y’all mad when we save ourselves?” I wrote. “Welcome to a new day.”

The heavy load is made worse by the fact that as Black women, we are not socialized to give as much care to ourselves as we are expected to give to others.

Black women are literally expected to be super women, from heading households to serving as emotional support for White people who want to be allies, but need our help figuring out how to get there.

There is an added layer for Black women athletes who have to compete against more than just their opponents.

A 2018 study titled “Beating Opponents, Battling Belittlement: How African-American Female Athletes Use Community to Navigate Negative Images” from Morgan State University in Baltimore examined how they must navigate both racism and sexism in order to become champions.

For example, it noted that Serena Williams – arguably the world’s greatest tennis player with more than 20 Grand Slam wins – has been compared to a “man” and a “gorilla.”

Radio host Don Imus called the players on the 2007 Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” after they lost to the Tennessee team in the NCAA final.

Osaka, Biles and Richardson have been the targets of racism and sexism before, but even more so recently.

Both Osaka and Biles dropped out of competitions, they said, to protect their mental health and Richardson was disqualified from competing after testing positive for cannabis.

Richardson smoked marijuana legally in Oregon and explained that it happened after a journalist whom she didn’t know broke the news to her about the death of her mother.

The three have been criticized as “quitters,” “arrogant,” “lazy” and “irresponsible” by some on social media. And those are just the words fit to print here.

Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open over a dispute regarding her not wanting to give post-match interviews (she said it stoked her anxiety); Biles withdrew from competitions at this month’s Olympics to focus on her mental health. Richardson graciously accepted a ban, which kept her from competing in the Olympics (she tweeted “I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year”).

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Building a Better Tomorrow — Letter From the Editor

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Michael B. Jordan on the cover of the summer issue of the Black EOE Journal

‘Normalcy’ is the buzzword of the hour as families and businesses across the country begin the shift into a post-pandemic world. This summer, more than any other, feels like it’s full of the current zeitgeist of ‘transition.’

A spirit of change is taking place, and while there are those who want to hold on to the past, we at the Black EOE Journal want to celebrate the tenacity of people who are focused on the next generation and committed to building a better future.

That’s why it was an honor to hear the heart of our cover story, award-winning actor and producer Michael B. Jordan.

It should come as no surprise that Jordan holds the education and uplift of youth from underserved communities in high regard, thus he uses his voice as an influencer as well as his position as the founder of the production company Outlier Society to give back as much as he can.

According to him, “I love mentorship. The next generation, they’re the future.

They’re the key to everything. They’re supposed to be better than us.” Read more about Jordan’s impact in the media and entertainment industry as an advocate, organizer as well as an activist on page 98.

As part of our LGBTQ+ Special, check out the impact to future generations of the queer community from the House passage of the Equality Act on page 139.

Furthermore, read about how CURLS haircare brand founder, Mahisha Dellinger, is committing to invest in creating a new generation of Black women millionaires on page 64 and how black celebrities are using their platforms to endorse and generate resources for Black- and minority-owned businesses on page 78.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

On the heels of celebrating our first federally recognized Juneteenth National Independence Day, many are excited to take back the freedoms and opportunities they felt were lost last year while others are determined to maintain the new lifestyles and mindsets they’ve gained. At BEOEJ, we’re focused on how we can best impart transformational change in the communities we serve, and we look forward to continuing that mission with you going forward into the future.

~Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

Editor, Black EOE Journal

Will Smith Pays for July 4 Fireworks in New Orleans After Learning City Didn’t Plan a Show (Report)

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Will Smith pictured in front of a purple backdrop while smiling away from the camera

By Ale Russian, People Magazine

Will Smith made sure the city of New Orleans could celebrate Independence Day in style. The actor reportedly paid $100,000 for the Louisiana city to have a fireworks display over the Mississippi River on Sunday, the Associated Press reports. City officials told the AP that Smith decided to pay for the pyrotechnics after learning New Orleans didn’t plan a 2021 show.

The show comes after New Orleans was forced to cancel last year’s display due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Smith gave back to the city where he’s recently been filming Emancipation, a gripping drama about the real-life story of of runaway slave Peter. The actor, 52, is starring in the film Emancipation as Peter, a real-life runaway slave who fought to evade his hunters through the Louisiana swamp in his journey to join the Union army. Peter is known for the picture of his heavily scarred back.

Emancipation counts on Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) as director with William N. Collage writing the script.Apple TV+ acquired the movie last year in a reported $120 Million deal. When the movie was announced, Fuqua spoke to Deadline about Peter’s enduring legacy.

Click here to read the full article on People Magazine.

Biden signs bill into law making Juneteenth a national holiday

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President Joe Biden speaks during an event to mark the passage of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington. Vice President Kamala Harris stands at left.

Originally posted on CNN

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law legislation establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The holiday is the first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983 and becomes at least the eleventh federal holiday recognized by the US federal government.

The US Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday that most federal employees will observe the holiday on Friday since Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas, in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Only a handful of states currently observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday.

The legislation, which was passed by Congress on Wednesday, gained momentum following Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year. It was also spurred after Democrats won the White House and control of the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday with a 415-14 vote after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation the day before.

The bill had bipartisan sponsors that included Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Lee told reporters ahead of the final passage of the bill, “what I see here today is racial divide crumbling, being crushed this day under a momentous vote that brings together people who understand the value of freedom.”

Read the full article on CNN

Photo Credit: CNN

George Floyd’s friends have turned their pain into action in the year since his murder

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George Floyd painted mural and speakers talking to news stations on a podium

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

The day after George Floyd’s funeral, Jonathan Veal drove from Houston and back to his Oklahoma City home still grappling with what had happened: his close friend — a brother, really — was killed by a Minneapolis police officer and the brutal video of his last moments had been viewed by millions.

The last time the two had spoken was just several months earlier, in January, when Floyd reached out to say happy birthday. They reminisced over their time playing basketball and football for Houston’s Jack Yates High School. Floyd told Veal about the new life he was setting up in Minneapolis, his efforts to become economically stable and provide for his family and shared that his faith had grown stronger.

At the end of the conversation, Floyd signed off: “With love from 88 to 42” — their old jersey numbers.Veal and Floyd had been a lot more than teammates. They had become family. Alongside their other good friends Vaughn

Dickerson, Jerald Moore and Herbert Mouton, they had spent most of every day together growing up and never lost touch. And now Floyd was gone. Knowing they shared his pain, Veal reached out to his three friends and they began communicating every day — texting, calling, supporting each other, sharing pictures.

“But then, we were like, ‘OK, what do we do?’ We could find a level of closure but also, we could keep the legacy of our friend,” Veal said. “So that’s how 88 C.H.U.M.P. came about.”
The four men say they created the 88 C.H.U.M.P. nonprofit organization — Floyd’s jersey number and an acronym which stands for ‘Communities Helping Underprivileged Minorities Progress’ — as a way to keep Floyd’s legacy alive and address some of the challenges that the community they grew up in, Houston’s Third Ward, has faced for decades. They’ve launched initiatives to tackle systemic inequities, police brutality and opportunities for the inner city youth, among other efforts.
“We understand this is going to be a daunting task,” Veal said. “But we’re committed to it because Floyd gave that much to us.”
But the four weren’t the only ones galvanized by their friend’s killing. Across Houston, others who say they were lucky to know Floyd, the neighborhood’s “gentle giant,” have taken on new efforts in the past year pushing for change in his honor.

‘Blood brothers’
Dickerson, who still lives in Houston, said he had been thinking about creating an organization like 88 C.H.U.M.P. for nearly two decades. He finally shared it with Veal, Moore and Mouton after Floyd’s killing.
“We refuse to let one of our blood brothers from a different mother go out like that,” Dickerson said. “I know he’d be doing it for us, without a doubt.”

Immediately, the four hit the ground running, focusing initially on the November 2020 elections by conducting voter education and registration drives, including events in partnership with the Houston Texans — and helping residents of Houston’s Third Ward community make it to the polls on Election Day.

They set up conversations between the Third Ward community and the local police department. Over the summer, Veal said, 88 C.H.U.M.P. facilitated several dialogues in partnership with Houston police and the group plan to start another round of those conversations this summer.

But perhaps one of their biggest focal points has been the youth.

“We’re trying to actively get more kids involved with after-school programs such as computer literacy, teaching them how to write essays, math, social studies, science,” Dickerson said. “This is what’s needed for these inner-city youths to keep them active. If they don’t have no parks to go to, no boys and girls clubs, no after-school activities, what do you expect, they’re going to get in trouble.”

The group told CNN they’re hoping to set up scholarships for local high school students in Floyd’s honor and create programs that would introduce young adults to professionals and opportunities across different fields.
“It’s just something that we feel like we have to do,” Mouton said. “We have to keep (Floyd’s) name alive and we have to push these initiatives in his honor.”

Finally, 88 C.H.U.M.P. plans to kick off a fundraiser this month for a new football field in the high school they used to play for, a field they say hasn’t changed much in the past three decades.
Ultimately, the organization exists to help level the playing field for underserved communities, Veal said. It’s a long road ahead, he says, but one they’re willing to walk.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotions that come along with that, good, bad, ugly,” he said. “It’s worth it. It’s going to be difficult work, but it’s going to be worthwhile work, rewarding work.”

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Billy Porter Breaks a 14-Year Silence: “This Is What HIV-Positive Looks Like Now”

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Billy Porter in a black and white photo posed to the side looking at his right hand

BY BILLY PORTER, AS TOLD TO LACEY ROSE, The Hollywood Reporter

Billy Porter takes a long deep breath. “I have to start in 2007,” he says, having settled in across the table. He’s here, at Little Owl in the West Village, to get something off his chest — something that’s been shrouded in secrecy so long, he can barely remember life before.

“In June of that year,” he continues, a ball of nerves, even if the performer in him refuses to let on, “I was diagnosed HIV-positive.” In the 14 years since, the Emmy-winning star of Pose has told next to no one, fearing marginalization and retaliation in an industry that hasn’t always been kind to him. Instead, the 51-year-old, who has cultivated a fervent fan base in recent years on the basis of his talent and authenticity, says he’s been using Pray Tell, his HIV-positive character on the FX series, as his proxy. “I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate,” he reveals, acknowledging that nobody involved with the show had any idea he was drawing from his own life.

Now, as the Peabody Award-winning series, a ball-scene drama set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis, concludes its third and final season, Porter is preparing for what’s next. There’s a memoir, over which he’s agonized and blown deadlines, set for later this year; a Netflix documentary about his life, which will keep him in business with Pose co-creator Ryan Murphy; a 2021 take on Cinderella, in which he’ll play the fairy godmother; a directorial debut; a host of new music; and much, much more.

But the Broadway-trained actor, who is an Oscar shy of an EGOT, isn’t interested in entering the next phase of his life and career with the shame that’s trailed him for more than a decade. So, with Murphy by his side for support, and a cadre of documentary cameras hovering above, Porter tells his story. An edited version follows.

Having lived through the plague, my question was always, “Why was I spared? Why am I living?”

Well, I’m living so that I can tell the story. There’s a whole generation that was here, and I stand on their shoulders. I can be who I am in this space, at this time, because of the legacy that they left for me. So it’s time to put my big boy pants on and talk.

Click here to read the full article on the Hollywood Reporter.

The Underground Railroad Team Talks Aaron Pierre’s Distracting Beauty as Caesar — and That Episode 2 Shocker

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Underground railroad actor wearing vintage clothing from the time

By , TV Line

To be clear, The Underground Railroad is a serious and thought-provoking work of art. The 10-part limited series, which Oscar winner Barry Jenkins adapted from Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is in many ways a visually rich conversation starter on American slavery and race relations. But part of that visual is Krypton‘s Aaron Pierre as Caesar — who, within five minutes of watching Episode 1, has the ability to make viewers focus on little else but him. Or, as one fan on Twitter phrased it, “he reminds me of Javier Bardem — a face that just wants to be looked at. Powerful looking dude.”

Thankfully, Pierre is a wonderful actor, and his ability to convey great depth with just a slow-boiling sidelong glance is in and of itself a reason to pay attention to him opposite star Thuso Mbedu, TVLine’s most recent Performer of the Week.

Speaking of which, Mbedu says she noticed the London native’s charms as much as viewers have and will — but only as herself. As Cora, who initially and quizzically tells Caesar she won’t run away with him to freedom, she can’t see his handsome face and broad shoulders or hear his seductive baritone voice.

“Caesar was friends with the group who called Cora names at every single turn,” Mbedu recalls. “He was part of that crew. So she’s not seeing him for the god that he is. She’s seeing all the ugly. But that’s Cora. As Thuso, I was like, ‘Hey, Aaron!’”

Jenkins agrees and says Cora’s other hurdles as an enslaved Black woman eclipse Caesar’s pretty blue eyes.

“Cora absolutely would question running away with Caesar because I think in that moment, Cora can’t see anything and she cannot see how beautiful he is,” Jenkins contends. “The only thing she can see is that the person who should want her the most, her mother, abandoned her at this plantation. That’s all she can see. Caesar’s job, as handsome as he is, is to very slowly and subtly remind her that ‘I see you. I need you. I want you. You are special.’ I think that’s the role he plays in her life.”

Click here to read the full article on TV Line.

Damian Lillard Encourages Others to ‘Be Good Allies’ in NBA’s AAPI Month PSA: ‘Stand Up, Speak Out’

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Damian Lillard wearing an oregon basketball jersey during a game

By Lindsay Kimble, People

Damian Lillard is helping the NBA advocate for change in America. In a new PSA launched in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, Lillard — who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers — decries the recent rise in violence against the AAPI community.

“May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,” Lillard says. “As we celebrate, we must also acknowledge the troubling rise in violence and discrimination towards Asian Americans this year. Hate and bigotry against anyone have no place in our game — or in our communities.”

RELATED: 14 Brands to Support for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month — and Always

Lillard, 30, adds, “Now is the time to stand up, speak out, and be good allies. We must continue our fight to stop discrimination and xenophobia, together. To find out how you can get engaged, visit StandAgainstHatred.org.”

The findings of a study released in March of police department statistics shows that hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by nearly 150 percent in 2020 amid the coronaviurs pandemic, despite hate crimes overall dropping by 7 percent.

Click here to read the full article on People.

A new generation of Black male teachers starts its journey in partnership with Apple

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man sitting on a couch in a home while video chatting on his laptop

By Apple Newsroom

For more than 100 years, teaching has run through Hillary-Rhys Richard’s family.

Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as he’s known to his friends, listened to his mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors — four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.

By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a Black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped steer him to follow in their footsteps.

This week, Rhys, 18, will complete his freshman year remotely as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first-of-its-kind program was created in partnership with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Apple’s multiyear partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other engagements the company has established through its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, working alongside the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning and workforce opportunities.

At Huston-Tillotson, Apple is providing scholarships for the program’s students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional-development courses for students and faculty.

“Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in his application essay to Huston-Tillotson. “In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race.”

Currently, only 2 percent of all US teachers are Black men, something the program at Huston-Tillotson seeks to change. When Black students are taught by a Black teacher, they are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college.

Huston-Tillotson President Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette has witnessed the power of that relationship firsthand. Her son had a Black male teacher in the fifth grade, and it transformed his education.

“It just really did something magical for him,” says Dr. Burnette. “So this is personal for me because of my own experience raising an African American male. It’s my mission to be able to get these young Black men in classrooms, so they can pour into other vessels like themselves because they have shared experiences. And there’s nothing like being taught by someone who has a shared experience.”

It’s the reason Dr. Burnette prioritized the creation of the African American Male Teacher Initiative and sought out a partner in Apple.

Click here to read the full article on Apple Newsroom.

Kendrick Carmouche to be first Black jockey in Kentucky Derby since 2013

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Kendrick Carmouche pictures in a blue jockey helmet while smiling away from the camera with joy

By the Associated Press, ESPN

Long before Kendrick Carmouche started riding horses growing up in Louisiana, Black jockeys were synonymous with the sport.

Black riders were atop 13 of the 15 horses in the first Kentucky Derby in 1875 and won 15 of the first 28 editions of the race. Everything has changed since: Carmouche on Saturday will be the first Black jockey in the Kentucky Derby since 2013 and is just one of a handful over the past century.

Carmouche is one of the few remaining Black jockeys in the United States. Much like Marlon St. Julien in 2000, Patrick Husbands in 2006 and Kevin Krigger in 2013, his presence in horse racing’s biggest event is a reminder of how the industry marginalized Black jockeys to the point they all but disappeared from the sport.

“As a Black rider getting to the Kentucky Derby, I hope it inspires a lot of people because my road wasn’t easy to get there and I never quit,” Carmouche said. “What I’ve been wanting all my career is to inspire people and make people know that it’s not about color. It’s about how successful you are in life and how far you can fight to get to that point.”

Carmouche is the son of a jockey, and he has won more than 3,400 races and earned $118 million since beginning to ride professionally in 2000. He came back from a broken leg three years ago and set himself up for his first Kentucky Derby mount by riding 72-1 long shot Bourbonic to victory in the Wood Memorial on April 3. Bourbonic will leave from the 20th post in Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs.

He is also a rarity in a sport now dominated by jockeys from Latin America.

“Obviously there haven’t been many in recent decades, but if you go back to the early years of the Derby, the late 1800s, early 1900s, Black jockeys dominated the Kentucky Derby,” NBC Sports analyst Randy Moss said. “Guys like Isaac Murphy and Jimmy Winkfield.”

Carmouche joins St. Julien as the only U.S.-born Black jockeys in the Derby since 1921, which even then was long after the era dominated by Murphy, Winkfield and others.

Chris Goodlett, a historian at the Kentucky Derby Museum, cited a combination of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the United States, intimidation by white riders, and decisions by racing officials, owners and trainers for the decline of Black jockeys in the early 20th century. One example was white counterparts riding Winkfield into the rail at Harlem Race Track outside Chicago and injuring him and his horse.

“Consequently, white trainers and owners would be [more] reluctant to ride Black jockeys on their horses due to instances like that,” Goodlett said. “We see it also just from an administrative point of view, as well: fewer licenses being issued to Black jockeys, sometimes not issued at all.”

Brien Bouyea, communications director for the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, said many Black jockeys left for Europe because of better working conditions and never returned. Manny Ycaza came from Panama and blazed a trail for Latin American jockeys, who used riding schools and other factors that changed on-track demographics.

Along the way, participation by Black people in the Kentucky Derby ebbed and flowed with significant contributions along the way, including grooms Will Harbut with Man O’War in 1920 and Eddie Sweat with Secretariat in 1973 and trainer Hank Allen with Northern Wolf in 1989. Harbut’s great-grandson, Greg Harbut, co-owned 2020 Derby runner Necker Island and helped found the Ed Brown Society, named after the 19th-century Black jockey and trainer, to further diversify racing.

Husbands was well aware of his place in history when he rode Seaside Retreat in the 2006 Derby and said he feels a connection to Carmouche this year because “the steppingstone that he’s doing for his culture is the same stuff I was trying to do for my culture.”

He said Carmouche becoming the first Black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902 “would be a blessing. It would bring tears to a lot of people’s eyes.”

Click here to read the full article on ESPN.

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