For the 2020 New Orleans Saints season, players, coaches and staff focused on a 360-degree campaign that provided African-American women with the space to educate the public on a variety of topics. This campaign collaborated with local and national organizations that support the work of women leaders in and out of sports who are on the front lines of the movement, and ignite a weekly call to action for the public.
The goal of Saints players' support of the #SayHerName Campaign was to raise awareness around the current state of African-American women in America, uplift leaders and the left out or looked over in this space, bring about solutions that elicit systemic change in New Orleans and across the country, and ultimately make a safer, more equitable America.
Through the generosity of the players and the matching of Saints organization as part of the NFL's Club Social Justice Matching Fund Program, a total of $300,000 dollars will be distributed to local and national organizations that supported the campaign. These organizations are in the focus areas of education, Criminal Justice Reform, and public health.
- The Historic Carver Theater
- Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA)
- Spelman College
- African American Policy Forum (AAPF)
- Navigate NOLA
One element of the players' campaign included the key component of the African American Policy Forum's national #SayHerName campaign, developed by its Co-Founder & Executive Director Kimberlé Crenshaw. The basis of the national campaign is to resist African-American women's invisibility by sharing their stories after losing their lives because of police brutality. Players Coalition was also an essential part of the campaign by supporting with the strategy needed to help maximize its overall impact.
Throughout the season, players would participate in virtual roundtable discussions with guest speakers. Topics included education, health care, domestic violence, sexual harassment, sports and media, social justice and racial equity, intersectional oppression of racism and sexism, and the next generation of boys.
Filmed at the Historic Carver Theater, a video of these conversations was released each Friday before a Saints home game and shared on the team's website and social platforms.
Guest speakers included:
- Dr. Tina Davis (Kaiser Permanente)
- Dr. Cynthia Neal (Spelman College)
- Dr. Rashunda Stitt Richardson (Winston-Salem State)
- Dr. Monique Hamilton (Ochsner Health)
- Dr. Celeste Lee (Spelman College)
- Natasha Cloud (WNBA)
- Maria Taylor (ESPN)
- Taylor Rooks (Bleacher Report)
- MJ Acosta (NFL Network)
- Dr. Chelsea Heyward (The Players Coalition)
"In my opinion, the intentionality of the #SayHerName campaign is a model of what impact could and should be in sports. We educated ourselves, collaborated with the experts, lent our platform, uplifted the pre-existing work, invested directly back into the community, and had support from players to ownership. From start to finish I'm so proud of this team and we hope the campaign will inspire the nation." – Demario Davis, Saints linebacker and 2020 team nominee for NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year.
During pre-game and in game during the entire season, players and coaches wore #SayHerName T-shirts to help drive campaign awareness.
About Carver Theater:
The Historic Carver Theater is listed in the National Registrar of Historic Places and named after the famed Negro educator and one of the 20th century's greatest scientists, George Washington Carver. The theater officially opened its doors on Sept. 29, 1950, to great fanfare and was hailed as "America's first theater for colored patrons.'' It is located just 10 blocks from the French Quarter, on the fringe of the Faubourg Treme, the oldest community of free Blacks in the United States. After the shutdown of the movie screen in 1980, from 1992 until August 2005, The Historic Carver Theater was home to the Carver Medical Clinic. After demolishing the remnants of the clinic due to Hurricane Katrina, it reopened as a multipurpose venue in April 2014, after an $8 million renovation. The Historic Carver Theater's stage has since played host to notables such as: Fats Domino, Dr. John, Snoop Dogg, Julian Bond, Wendell Pierce, Mystical, Paul Mooney and many others. The theater is featured in the opening scene of Academy Award winning movie "Green Book", and "Jay and Silent Bob." Programs of The Historic Carver Theater Foundation (501 c3 nonprofit) such as: Star is Born, The Wonderland Christmas Festival, and From Congo Square to Everywhere are designed with the community at the forefront to unite, educate, empower and celebrate artistic excellence by promoting training, discipline, professionalism, wellness and teamwork in an environment that allows every person the opportunity to flourish. Available for concerts, plays, off-Broadway shows, films, conventions, graduations, Mardi Gras balls, dance recitals, corporate events and private parties. Visit our website https://carvertheater.com/ for more information.
Founded in 1996, The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) is an innovative think tank that connects academics, activists and policy-makers to promote efforts to dismantle structural inequality. We utilize new ideas and innovative perspectives to transform public discourse and policy. We promote frameworks and strategies that address a vision of racial justice that embraces the intersections of race, gender, class, and the array of barriers that disempower those who are marginalized in society. AAPF is dedicated to advancing and expanding racial justice, gender equality, and the indivisibility of all human rights, both in the U.S. and internationally.
About Navigate NOLA:
Navigate NOLA is a social-emotional and community wellness organization committed to enhancing the well-being of the New Orleans citizenry, across the lifespan, accomplishing this through social and emotional learning programs in early childhood learning centers and elementary schools, gender based positive youth development and leadership programs for African-American adolescent girls, training, education and professional development for educators and school based mental health professionals, wellness groups for African-American women that promote self-care practices, and data collection and advocacy that seek to advance policies that combat inequities in education that exacerbate the vulnerability of children of color.
The organization's inaugural program, The Navigate Her Leadership Institute, a positive youth development and leadership program for African-American adolescent girls has served 11 cohorts of African-American girls across five schools. We have provided trainings to organizations that mentor African-American girls, presented at conferences and conducted guest lectures at academic institutions to raise visibility around the contemporary challenges that African-American girls face at the intersection of race, class and gender. Additionally, we provide program evaluations to community-based organizations that serve African-American girls (in the region) to advance the collective impact of collaborative work across multiple organizations.
To date, Navigate NOLA has served over 1,000 children in the Greater New Orleans through its school-based programming and trained over 300 educators. The work of the organization is implemented by a small, mighty, all women team of diverse professionals in the areas of social work, public health, education, law and holistic health and wellness. The organizations is thrilled to be doing this very important work!
The Women's National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) is the union for current women's professional basketball players in the WNBA. The WNBPA is the first labor union for professional women athletes. It was created in 1998 to protect the rights of players and assist them in achieving their full potential on and off the court. The WNBPA handles negotiation of collective bargaining agreements, filing grievances on their behalf, and counseling players on benefits and post-WNBA career opportunities. The WNBPA also serves as a resource for current players, while they are competing internationally during the offseason. The WNBPA encourages players to participate in union activities – including executive leadership roles, team representative positions, and global community outreach initiatives.
About Spelman College:
Founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, the historic institution became Spelman College in 1924. Now a global leader in the education of women of African descent, Spelman is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and are proud members of the Atlanta University Center Consortium.
Today the student body comprises more than 2,100 students from 43 states and 10 foreign countries. Spelman empowers women to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change through service. They are dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical and leadership development of our students.
Spelman is proud of its 76 percent graduation rate (average over six years), one of the best in the nation, but the support doesn't stop once a graduate steps on stage to take their diploma. Their global alumnae network is strong, providing connections and helping hands to graduates as they begin on their path of global engagement.
About Players Coalition:
Players Coalition is structured as an independent 501(c)(3) (charity) and 501(c)(4) (advocacy) organization, working with professional athletes, coaches and owners across ten different leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in our country. Players Coalition was founded in 2017 by co-founders Anquan Boldin, NFL 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year, and Malcolm Jenkins, 2017 NFLPA Byron "Whizzer" White winner, and is governed by a Task Force Board of 11 voting members. Players Coalition operated under the collective goal of making an impact on social justice and racial equality at the federal, state, and local levels through advocacy, awareness, education, and allocation of resources. Supporters are solution-focused and invest personal time and resources to educate themselves on various issues affecting their communities with the goal of identifying where their influence can have the greatest impact.