Back in 2005, Nike released its first ever shoe to commemorate Black History Month. A limited-edition Air Force 1. Little did anyone know it then, but that singular effort would evolve into a yearly collection. Each year celebrating African American heritage and a more inclusive world for all athletes. For 2019 Nike digs deeper in both commerce and community.

The Collection

At the commerce level, this year’s BHM collection, consists of Nike, Jordan and Converse kicks. Including new versions of Lebron 16’s, Kyrie 5’s and KD 11’s just to name a few.

The theme is a collage of national African patterns, fused onto prints in a theme of Afro-futurism. Senior Creative Director of Nike Basketball, Jonathan Johnson Griffin, stated the design reflects how athletes today are fully embracing their backgrounds and are becoming catalysts for change in their local communities. “In sport, there’s a movement happening where athletes are inviting others to discover the full side of who they are, through finding their voices and improving their communities”. Behold the 2019 collection.

Nike LeBron 16 “Equality”
Release Date: January 21, 2019


Nike PG 3 “BHM”
Release Date: February 1, 2019


Nike Kyrie 5 “BHM”
Release Date: February 1, 2019


Nike KD 11 “BHM”
Release Date: February 1, 2019


Air Jordan 1 “BHM”
Release Date: February 2, 2019


Converse Chuck Taylor 70 High “BHM”
Release Date: February 2019


Nike Flare 2 “BHM”
Release Date: February 2019


The Community

Beside commerce, in 2019 Nike is creating community via a call to action. This civic-minded approach comes in the form of Future Varsity and MENTOR.

On January 18th, in Atlanta, Nike launched the Future Varsity program, this program provides leadership training to 14 young African Americans creating positive change in their communities. The participants are paired with mentors from within and outside of Nike to help advance their causes.

Projects range from organizing charity basketball tournaments in Chicago to providing nutrition education to youth in New York City. Future Varsity also includes leadership seminars, Q&A sessions with influential African American cultural leaders and a trip to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. During the six-month program, the mentors will regularly counsel the participants and give practical advice on ways to grow their projects.

Back in 2017 Nike also partnered with PeacePlayers International and MENTOR, to expand opportunities for youth and their communities. Two years later, MENTOR expanded its programs in the southeastern and western U.S. with Nike’s support, piloted an initiative in three cities and continues to connect adults to youth mentorship opportunities in their communities through more than 2,000 mentoring programs today across all 50 states.

The impact of the program? Perhaps MENTOR CEO David Shapiro, CEO said it best “The results have been record-breaking in recruiting new mentors to quality programs across the country. Simply put, many more youth today have the mentors they need because of Nike’s support.”

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