It’s been declared by many online that this year’s Black History Month may have been the “Blackest” one yet. Beyonce snatched our just grown back edges with her “Formation” video and electrifying ode to The Black Panthers during the Super Bowl 50 Half-Time Show. Kendrick Lamar gave a compelling performance at the Grammys as he also took home Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. The NAACP Image Awards had its biggest Black Hollywood showing yet and it aired just some weeks after Stacey Dash‘s unnecessary remarks that programs like the Image Awards and BET Awards should be canceled because they were in the way of desegregation. (Girl BYE!) Obviously, such a viewpoint, while her right to have, is bullshit and she was the only one because Black History Month was already lit within a week and half!
What also gave so many life? There were memorable moments with the nation’s First family, President Obama and First Lady Michelle. Mrs. Obama had legendary choreographer Debbie Allen perform traditional African dances at The White House with a young Black girl dance group. And the Obamas shared a danced with an adorable 106-year old woman who jubilantly exclaimed she never thought the day would come that she would see a Black President. Black History Month was been heartwarming and determined in every way.
Watch the dance performance below!
( The video is an hour long, but so worth it. Watch it later if anything!)
Occasionally, fashion labels respond to the celebratory month through their products and slogans. Sneaker brands in particular jump at the opportunity to adorn their classically designed kicks from the vault in the common colors of African and Caribbean flags such as red, green, and black.
Nike was especially responsive with lots of #BHM editions, as shown in their Air Force 1, LeBron 13, KD8, Kyrie 2, Kobe 11, Air Footscape Magista football cleat, Roshe One, NikeCourt Flare, Streak LT 3, Air Jordan 1 Nouveau and AJ1 High. Yasss!
I especially loved the Air Force 1s and Roshe. Nike ran with the concept of geometric shapes and patterns, mosaic-like surfaces, and lots of vibrant tribal colors! Nike has actually initiated a series of Black History Month sneakers since 2005. They seemed to have the most options this year.
Puma released some limited editions kicks, and they were more specific with their inspiration. In 1968, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, after winning the gold (former) and bronze (latter) medals at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, together they raised their fists in salute and harmony with the growing Black Power movement. The famous photo of Carlos and Smith has been immortalized in both popular culture and history circles as a defining 20th century moment. Forty-eight years later, Puma is honoring Smith (and in spirit, Carlos) for his brave gesture as he was wearing Puma suedes right before he got on the podium (he kept his black socks on to represent those suffering in poverty).
Translated in three sneaker versions, two in the classic Suede and third in the Sky II, double strapped high top. The sneakers are clean with sweeping tribal color waves or shapes of yellow, red, turquoise, and beige, wrapped by creamy black or gray. On the tongues, are Smith’s power salute silhouette and the numbers “68” above Puma’s cougar logo. Word!
They also released the Smith collection on shirts and sweatshirts.
Adidas joined in the #BMH fashion fete with their tribute to track and field icon and groundbreaker Jesse Owens. They applauded him through their limited edition stylings of the D Lillard 2, D Rose 6, and Crazylight Boost 2.5 sneakers.
Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. His talent and drive broke the ceiling for Black people in track and field. (Footage from the era shows Adolf Hitler was amongst the thousands watching him thrive). Paying it forward, just like Puma did, Owens was wearing spiked track shoes during that historic time by Adidas founder Adi Dassler. The biggest difference between the Owens sneakers and Nike and Puma is that Adidas stuck to a color scheme of cream, gold, and brown-black.
As reported by Footwear News, Owens’ surviving kin was humbled by the kicks: “On the feet of athletes who compete in the spirit of Jesse’s historic accomplishments, these shoes encompass the significance of one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen.” Derrick Rose, James Harden, and Damian Lillard all wore the sneakers during the month of February.
Just this month, the biopic on the runner, Race, was released in theaters. Playing Owens is newcomer Stephan James (go see it!)
Many of these items are still available online, Foot Locker and your local sneaker retailers.