Daily Dose: 12/5/17 Willie Taggart heads to FSU

What up, gang? Tuesday was a TV day again, so do check out Around The Horn at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

Rep. John Conyers is going to retire. The Democratic congressman from Michigan, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, said his exit is effective immediately, but he is endorsing his son to fill his seat. It sort of feels like there should be rules against that kind of thing, but, alas, that’s what’s happening. Elsewhere in politics, the GOP is now back to supporting Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama, who is accused of having relationships with underage girls over the years. Guess that presidential endorsement was worth something.

If you smoke weed and live in New Jersey, good news! The Garden State is planning on legalizing recreational marijuana, thanks to huge wins by the Dems across the ballot last month. The state is no stranger to tourism, so this could end up being a huge boon for a place that’s suffered all kinds of issues over the years after natural disasters. It’s not going to be easy to get off the ground, but when it does, you can bet this is going to be an extremely popular thing to do.

LaVar Ball continues to be a legend. Look, whether you agree with his decision to pull his son LiAngelo out of UCLA, his public appearances continue to be epic. This morning, he appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo again, this time with a roaring fireplace behind him at 6 in the morning, looking like he was about to belt out a holiday tune, which he then kind of did. Anyway, Ball wants his son to at least be able to develop as a ballplayer, which UCLA wasn’t letting Gelo do because of his indefinite suspension.

Looks like Florida State is going to have a black head coach. After Jimbo Fisher took off for Texas A&M, leaving that program in a bit of a lurch, they found a guy who’d once coached in Florida before. His name is Willie Taggart, and he’s coming from Oregon. Thing is, so many guys have changed jobs over the past month that who knows what’s a good gig anymore in college football? Basically, everyone is chasing Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban, and it doesn’t appear that anyone else is really in the running.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Have you seen the latest viral online challenge? Most of these are pretty ridiculously boring, but the invisible box challenge is excellent. You know you’ve got a good one when the failures are as good as the people who do it right.

Snack Time: When I was a kid, Mega Man was a great game. But there hasn’t been a version of the Capcom game to come out in eight years. Now they’ve got a new one on deck, and it looks AWESOME.

Dessert: If I’m still breaking it down like this when I’m this old, I’ll have done something right.

For YouTuber turned actor/producer Andrew Bachelor, telling stories through film is a passion and a goal Known as King Bach, he is now producing and starring in a film alongside Terry Crews, Mike Epps, and Method Man

He started out as a YouTuber but catapulted into the fame lane on Vine. His name is Andrew Bachelor and, yes, he has the Guinness World Record to prove it.

Now, Bachelor, filmmaker and actor, is making a splash in the film industry.

He’s starring in Lionsgate’s comedy feature film Where’s The Money opposite Kat Graham, Terry Crews, Mike Epps and Method Man. He plays a quick-witted young man from the streets of South Central Los Angeles who must rush a lily-white USC fraternity to recover a stash of stolen money. The 29-year-old not only stars in the film, he is also an executive producer on the project.

“I love not only to be in front of the camera, but behind the camera as well,” said Bachelor, known on social media as King Bach. “That’s why I really get involved with every project that I’m a part of.”

Bachelor has evolved into an in-demand actor, producer and content creator, working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. As his visibility grew, he caught the attention of casting directors who booked him acting gigs on shows such as House of Lies and The Mindy Project, as well as films such as Meet the Blacks and a spoof of the horror series The Purge.

Later this year, Bachelor will also be featured in the Netflix horror film The Babysitter, opposite Bella Thorne, and the comedy film When We First Met. Forbes named him as one of 2017’s top influencers in entertainment.

Creating content has always been one of Bachelor’s biggest passions. The sketches on his YouTube channel, Pad TV, quickly gained more than 3 million subscribers. The sketches were expensive to produce, so Bachelor searched for alternative ways to share content, which led to his discovery of Vine. In a few short years, he rose to be one of the most followed people on Vine, with 15 million subscribers and more than 5 billion views. His other social media channels also flourished, with millions of people following his content.

“The key for me has been to not lose focus of my ultimate goal,” Bachelor said. “A lot of people come to Los Angeles and leave because they stop believing in themselves and change their dream. You can’t lose focus, even if that means writing down your goal and reading it every day as a reminder.”

Bachelor spoke with The Undefeated on how he went from internet star to Hollywood star and the lessons he’s learned — and is still learning — along the way.


What’s the difference between you and your alter ego King Bach?

King Bach is funny, energetic, charming, handsome and every woman’s dream. I’m just calm and boring … but still handsome, let’s not get sidetracked from that.

What’s the first thing you did when Forbes named you as one of the top influencers in entertainment for 2017?

I told my mom, ‘I made it. I can move out of the house now.’

What is your ultimate goal?

It’s to create an empire. I get my blueprint from Tyler Perry, who’s created plays, TV shows and movies. I had asked myself, ‘Why can’t I do the same?’ And my answer was, ‘I can do the same. And I will!’

When did you realize you were famous?

When my mom told me that people [outside family and friends] knew who I was.

What did you learn from some of the actors on Where’s the Money?

It was great working with those legends. Mike Epps taught me the art of improv. Terry Crews showed me how to be humble and respect everyone on and off camera. And I learned how to really get into character and become involved with my role from Method Man.

Have you ever been starstruck?

Yes, when I met Mario Lopez at an airport.

How do you come up with the creatives behind your videos and films?

A lot of the situations happen to me in real life, and I just figure out a way to turn it into an exciting story.

How did you nurture your desire to perform?

I joined an acting club and comedy troupe. We’d do 30 skits in 60 minutes. It drew me more to acting and wanting to perfect the craft.

You’re a Phi Beta Sigma member. What drew you to the fraternity?

Going to FSU [Florida State University], where everything and everyone is new, I needed a group [that kept me grounded]. Phi Beta Sigma always showed me love [and furthermore] brotherhood, scholarship and service. That’s what we stand for.

What will you always be a champion of?

Learning. [I’ve learned] not to be afraid to fail. The only way to learn is by failing, and once you accept that, you’re golden.

What’s your favorite social media outlet?

Twitter and Instagram.

Virginia’s Carla Williams embraces her place in history New athletic director is the first African-American woman to hold that position at a Power 5 school

Carmen Williams did all she could to hold back tears as she watched her mother, Carla Williams, introduced as the new athletic director at the University of Virginia. “It’s emotional because she’s always been a champion for me and now I get to see her achieve her dreams.”

Former athletic director Craig Littlepage did all he could to fight back tears when asked about seeing control of the athletic program being turned over to an African-American woman. “I’m proud to say,” Littlepage said, pausing for a full 20 seconds as his mouth quivered, “if there’s a place, this is the place because this community has been through a lot.”

As for Williams, just moments after displaying a composed self-confidence during her news conference, she also got a little emotional when asked about how she thinks she’ll be perceived by young African-American women as the first African-American female athletic director at a Power 5 school.

“You want to make an impact,” she said, brushing away a tear that formed in the corner of her right eye. “You want to be an influence, a positive influence. And this is my way of doing that.”

UVA introduced Williams on Monday, two days after she arrived on campus with her husband, Brian, and children Carmen, Camryn (both students at the University of Georgia) and Joshua. She’s just the 10th athletic director in UVA’s history, replacing Littlepage, who announced his retirement last month after overseeing the most successful athletic era in school history (including seven NCAA team titles and 53 Atlantic Coast Conference championships during the 10-year period between 2002 and 2012).

UVA won 13 national championships during Littlepage’s 16-year tenure in Charlottesville.

Which all means the shoes that Williams has to fill are huge, replacing a man who was the first African-American athletic director in ACC history. But Williams’ impressive qualifications have assured the school administration that the program is in good hands. The former All-SEC basketball player at Georgia spent the past 13 years in athletics administration at her alma mater, most recently as the school’s deputy athletic director, a role in which she managed the daily operations of a department with a $127 million budget.


“At UVA we believe in uncompromised excellence, and that means that our coaches and our student-athletes pursue excellence in competition and in a classroom with equal levels of energy and commitment,” said Teresa Sullivan, the president of UVA. “Carla Williams shares our commitment to these principles, and that’s why I’m thrilled to introduce Carla as UVA’s new director of athletics.”

Williams grew up in LaGrange, Georgia, a city of just over 30,000 people that’s about an hour’s drive southwest of Atlanta. Her interest in sports emerged when she was a young girl playing basketball and football against boys (in those rugged sandlot football games, she played quarterback and running back).

“From a young age I learned some valuable lessons,” Williams said. “ I learned how to compete against people who were seemingly bigger, stronger and faster than me.”

What drove her competing against boys? “Don’t be intimidated, always be prepared,” she said. “I learned humility is strength.”

As she gained strength, Williams learned how to win. As Carla Green, she led LaGrange High School to two Class AAAA state titles. That led to a scholarship from Georgia, where she was a three-year starter as a 5-foot-9 guard (she played with five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards and two-time Olympian Katrina McClain) and was among the top 10 scoring leaders in school history when she graduated in 1989.

Williams returned to Athens for grad school, and after receiving her master’s degree in public administration in 1991 she was hired as an assistant women’s basketball coach. She was on the sidelines when Georgia went to consecutive Final Fours in 1995 and 1996.

But even before Georgia lost to Tennessee in the 1996 championship game, Williams knew she wanted to leave coaching to become an administrator. From 1996-97, she served as the school’s assistant director of compliance, beginning an administrative journey that included stops at Florida State (where she received her doctorate) and Vanderbilt (where she was an assistant athletic director) before returning to Georgia.

“When you looked at what she’s done, she checked all the boxes,” said Marcus Martin, a vice president and chief diversity officer at Virginia who was on the search committee formed after Littlepage announced his retirement. “Carla’s had the opportunity to go to other schools as an athletic director, and she could have risen to that level at Georgia. But she decided to come here, and this is an outstanding opportunity for not only her but for us.”

Phoebe Willis, the student representative on the search committee, expressed pride in having a woman in the school’s top athletic position.

“I’m an openly gay woman, and to see any type of minority be a first person in a significant place of power is exciting,” said Willis, a former field hockey player at Virginia. “But I’ll say with Carla Williams, what stood out with her was that she was the best qualified for this job first, and then it’s just an exciting thing that she’s the first African-American female to have this job in a Power 5 conference.”

Former Virginia basketball great Ralph Sampson attended the news conference to support the new hire.

“With [football coach] Bronco Mendenhall and [men’s basketball coach] Tony Bennett coming from outside, I think it’s good to bring some new flavor and spice to the school,” said Sampson, who was the National Player of the Year in three of his four years at Virginia. “She was the most qualified for this job. She’ll have no problem learning the culture here.”

Williams likely won’t immediately move to Charlottesville because her husband, an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at UGA, has to finish the semester in Athens. Her family likely will relocate in December or January to a city, Charlottesville, that made international headlines after a violent white nationalist rally in August.

“I watched it all play out on television, and I felt bad for the university and bad for Charlottesville,” Williams said. “What happened was not a reflection on UVA and the Charlottesville community. I was hurt for what this community went through.”

As Monday’s news conference came to a close, Williams spent some time meeting her new co-workers, taking photos and meeting the local media. As she answered questions, her 21-year-old daughter, Carmen, stood nearby beaming as she watched her mother handle the spotlight with poise.

“To see someone achieve those things you never thought were possible makes all African-American women think, ‘I can do this too,’ ” Carmen Williams said. “I saw a tweet from one of my friends who said, ‘I want to be just like Carla Williams.’

“I’m happy everyone is going to get a chance to see the type of incredible woman that I’m exposed to every day,” she added. “It’s her time.”

The ‘Last Chance U’ second season is just as authentic as the first The EMCC boys are back for another riveting look at junior college football that’s worth watching as much as the first time

There’s a scene in season one of Last Chance U, the popular Netflix series that aired last year, that’s incredibly unsettling. The junior college football powerhouse that the show follows, East Mississippi Community College, gets sucked into a massive brawl that’s as brutal as any team fight you’ve ever witnessed.

After the fight, Buddy Stephens, the white coach at EMCC, dresses down his predominantly African-American players for their involvement in what he calls “thug bulls—.”

The scene made you cringe. Stephens was so affected by what he saw in himself over the course of the six episodes of season one that he was embarrassed by his behavior and reluctant to attend a Denver film series to promote the series.

After exposing the rawness of juco football in season one, EMCC has invited the cameras back to document the 2016 football season, which is the subject of season two of Last Chance U, which begins streaming on Netflix on Friday.

The director of Last Chance U, Greg Whiteley, was thrilled to spend a second season in Scooba, Mississippi, a tiny rural town of 700 people who few had heard of before the series. That’s changed since that first season, when EMCC opened all its doors and allowed Whiteley and his crew to document the lives of players who see the school as their last chance at football stardom.

Last Chance U , season two.

Courtesy of Netflix

“It wasn’t unusual while we were shooting to have someone show up from Scotland or Australia,” Whiteley said. “People had seen the series and enjoyed it so much that they decided on their next trip to the States that they would stop by Scooba to check out the school. We allowed the town’s new fame to be a part of the narrative.”

What was thought to be a huge challenge in a second season: getting the players to remain authentic in a day and age where everyone’s holding camera phones to their face in a cry for attention and Instagram likes. The true reality of reality TV: The more drama in your life, the better your chance of fame and airtime. But Whiteley didn’t see that as a problem.

“People just assume that with the participants being more conscious of the camera and more conscious of their prospect of being famous, the result would be less authentic,” Whiteley said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’m confident in our ability to navigate to maintain the authenticity that is sort of our brand.”

If you followed season one you know that EMCC is a juco football powerhouse that was in pursuit of its third straight National Junior College Athletic Association championship when the cameras began following the team in 2015. That fight would eventually derail the team’s quest to three-peat. And, in an attempt to avoid spoilers, the carryover from the brawl has serious implications for EMCC in Last Chance U’s second season.

Last Chance U Season 2

Courtesy of Netflix

Focusing on juco football is brilliant. At that level you will always be able to find players with Division I talent who wind up playing at the juco level because they are their own worst enemies.

Season two of Last Chance U documents the redemptive journeys of quarterback De’Andre Johnson (who was caught on video punching a woman while he was at Florida State), defensive lineman Chauncey Rivers (who was dismissed from Georgia after his third arrest on marijuana charges) and linebacker Dakota Allen (who was released from Texas Tech after his arrest for burglary).

Besides Stephens’ attempt to rehabilitate his image in season two (after he often appeared completely unhinged in season one), Brittany Wagner returns to her prominent role as the academic adviser striving to keep the players on the field. The relationship between Stephens and Wagner in season two is best described in one word: tense.

Sequels are always challenging, but Whiteley is able to pull it off mainly because of the turnover of talent of the juco players who open up and lay bare their often troubled lives. Just like you rooted for the bad guys in The Wire, you pull for these players, who often need little more than someone steering them in the right direction. The second season is even more thorough in developing the personal struggles of some of the key players, including the challenging journey of running back Isaiah Wright.

With seasons one and two under his belt, Whiteley was asked whether he’ll spend another fall in Scooba.

“I don’t think we’re finished documenting the life in Scooba, but I’m not sure it would be for a season three,” Whiteley said. “If we do get permission to do a third season, we might want to go somewhere else.”

ASL interpreter Matt Maxey went from viral video sensation to working with Chance the Rapper Founder of DEAFinitely Dope is working to unite hearing and deaf communities through music

DEAFinitely Dope founder Matt Maxey never expected his everyday communication skills to be viewed as extraordinary. And he definitely never expected to catch the eye of Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper, who hired Maxey’s team of American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for the remainder of his Be Encouraged Tour, which runs through October.

Yet, the 29-year-old Atlanta native and social media sensation has given the deaf and hard-of-hearing community an opportunity to share a full music experience at concerts around the country.

“The deaf community has dealt with so much ignorance and all they’ve ever wanted was inclusion and to be accepted and treated equally while being able to enjoy life on an equal level as their hearing peers,” Maxey said via email.

Maxey, who is hard of hearing, gravitated toward interpreting hip-hop and R&B because of its rhythmic beats and the often powerful stories in the songs’ lyrics.

“Hip-hop has long been a favorite for the deaf community because of the beats, bass, and being hip, but they’ve never seen anybody truly emulate how the hearing world acts, talks, and expresses themselves and it’s understandable in sign language,” he wrote. “[Chance the Rapper] bringing on DEAFinitely Dope and being the first rapper to have his own personal interpreters, just makes me extremely happy because I personally feel like our mission has been to break barriers in the community, in society, in perspectives and stereotypes. To have an artist with the same beliefs, working with a deaf and hearing-impaired reflective of what he strives for, it’s truly a beautiful movement and social change to be a part of.”

Although the lines can be complex, there is a method Maxey uses to make interpreting fun and easier for the deaf community to follow along to their favorite tunes. For starters, Maxey studies the lyrics to ensure he understands the messages being relayed by artists. The lyrics, he said, are then portrayed in a way that people who know sign language will see how the stories are interpreted and connect it to their own life experiences.

“Hip-hop is purely visual with all the metaphors, wordplay and different moods that tracks may depict, so I must learn the words first, then I understand the song,” Maxey said. “I start signing the English words to the song to get my hands used to the song speed and mood, and lastly I picture it from the perspective of the artists and add the ASL twist to it by showing what the artist is talking about so that the message becomes clearer.”

That is exactly what Maxey did last month at the 2017 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee — the first big-stage festival he’s interpreted for. Maxey signed two songs he knew by heart while using the crowd’s positive vibes and energy to get him through the set. Unbeknownst to Maxey, Chance the Rapper had been watching him work the entire time.

“The next day, my friend Freddie casually walked up to me and said, ‘Chance the Rapper wants to meet you. He called and asked specifically for you, so we are setting up the meeting before his set tonight,’ ” Maxey explained. “I just couldn’t believe it. We didn’t get to meet until after his set, but while backstage, I was talking with my fellow interpreters that I had brought with me and all of a sudden, he just popped up. All I could think was wow, we’ve really come this far to get to this point. Nothing is impossible.”

Life hasn’t always been filled with success for Maxey, who founded DEAFinitely Dope in 2014 to “unite the hearing and deaf community through music and sign language.” Early on, his struggle to fit in with both the hearing and deaf communities made him question his place in society.

“I always felt like I was too deaf for the hearing world, yet too hearing for the deaf world,” Maxey said. “I think my situation is especially different with growing up in a hearing world, yet always working 10 times harder to hear with hearing aids and trying to lip-read what everyone is saying, knowing I can’t hear everything yet pretending that I could. If it was a group environment, forget about it.”

Maxey, who grew up in Atlanta before relocating to Houston, used hearing aids and was always surrounded by friends and family members to help him when necessary.

“My mother and my family never let me feel like I was a lesser person because of my disability and never lowered the standard for me,” Maxey said. “I was always slapped with the label of being gifted in the classroom, a pleasure to be around, and so many positive labels despite my disability that I never felt like I couldn’t do anything. The real question was, would I be accepted by everybody?”

After enrolling at Gallaudet University, a private institution for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington, D.C., then Florida State College at Jacksonville, Maxey’s journey to fit in became arduous. Maxey had no formal ASL training until taking classes at Gallaudet, and he struggled to find his footing among his deaf peers. Unable to fully conform, he took on odd, unfulfilling jobs to make ends meet. In the process, he relied heavily on drinking and partying as coping mechanisms for his “destroyed feeling of self-worth.”

Maxey soon realized the lifestyle he was leading was neither productive nor conducive to a viable career. Instead, he distracted himself by beginning a YouTube channel where he uploaded videos signing rap lyrics. Immediately, Maxey noticed the skyrocketing number of views his videos began receiving and how invested the audience was in the rare sight of a black man using sign language to rap lyrics.

From there, Maxey began sharing his videos on other social media platforms before getting involved in #4BarFriday, an Instagram freestyle competition created by Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard to allow users to share their rap battles. Maxey’s first entry was completely in sign language, with written lyrics posted in the description.

“I’ve been taking speech therapy for 18 years, [people] made fun of for my speech my whole life, and [I’m] extremely self-conscious of how I talked, which was why I found so much comfort in taking on the voice of an artist through sign language,” Maxey said. “The positive feedback was overwhelming from the community with the majority of the people commenting that they’ve never seen a deaf person rap before. I posted another one seven weeks later using my voice, and Damian Lillard posted it on his Instagram. The support, praise and inspiration was tremendous.”

His viral videos and accounts, which have amassed more than 45,000 combined followers, prompted Maxey to want to do more for the deaf and hard of hearing. In 2014, DEAFinitely Dope was born. As it gains steam, Maxey often reflects on the beginning of his journey while encouraging others to find what makes them happy in life.

Instagram Photo

“Find your passion, find your purpose, and fulfill it by any means necessary,” Maxey said. “I’ve truly lived life in a way to where nothing and nobody could come between my music and I, and with so many people witnessing the journey from 100 likes to 25K likes on Facebook, I just hope they feel inspired to the point that no, your deafness does not prevent you from being an inspiration to do more and do better. With spreading nothing but positivity, I hope people leave feeling better about themselves, encouraged, hopeful, ambitious. We need more of that instead of tearing each other down, negativity, and being content with being stagnant in life. Life is what you make it, so make it where the generation after you will enjoy and learn from the life you have lived.”

The Harlem Derby puts twist on traditional Kentucky Derby day It’s a blend of fashion and horse racing while honoring the sport’s black jockeys

On a bustling Saturday in Harlem, New York, curious passers-by stopped to acknowledge the crowd gathering outside of the neighborhood’s famed Red Rooster Harlem restaurant. A portion of the sidewalk on Lenox Avenue had become a personal catwalk for patrons attending the Harlem Derby’s 5th Annual Kentucky Derby Gala, Run for the Roses.

Melissa Bunni Elian for The Undefeated

The fashion scene, which flowed from inside the restaurant and onto the streets, was reminiscent of one that could be found at nearly every black church across America on Easter Sunday. Men sported snazzy fedoras and straw hats with tailored suits as women showed off every hat from handcrafted fascinators to wide-brimmed cloches, paired with custom Sunday-best threads on a breezy afternoon. The gathering almost felt spiritual.

Renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster Harlem’s owner, took in the sights around him and smiled.

“This is always fun,” Samuelsson said. “The ladies in Harlem, they don’t need the Derby. They wear hats all the time, every Sunday. But anytime you can celebrate a tradition like this, Harlem will always put its spin on it. And it’s happening right now. It’s awesome to be part of this celebration.”

Outside of the restaurant’s door was a short red carpet that offered the celebrity experience and a photo op. In the corner of the restaurant’s patio, bottles of Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey lined a table where bartenders quickly churned out mint juleps, the popular Derby Day drink. Inside, a live band played near the entrance of the restaurant right next to a large-screen television, where patrons would later gather to watch jockey John Velazquez and crowd favorite Always Dreaming win the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

It’s a sight that Harlem Derby co-founder Rob Owens looks forward to every year. Owens, a native Kentuckian who has lived in Harlem for the past 30 years, wanted to bring the familiar culture of the Kentucky Derby to his neighborhood while also paying homage to the oft-forgotten black jockeys and trainers who dominated professional horse racing as early as 1875. Last year, Owens launched his own line of hats named after famous black jockeys.

Guests celebrate after the running of the Kentucky Derby on the patio of Red Rooster Harlem on May 6, 2017 in Harlem, New York.

Brent Lewis/The Undefeated

“The forgotten history is just so rich and phenomenal,” Owens said. “The Kentucky Derby is the oldest sporting event in America. We celebrate it every year, and there’s this big to-do about it; however, African-Americans don’t really know the roots and history of it. … The Kentucky Derby is about fashion and style. It’s about music, bourbon and the sport of horse racing. But one thing for our community that’s being left out is that we were the pioneers of it.”

Earlier in the day, The Undefeated hosted a panel to discuss the pertinent history of black jockeys and trainers, as well as the state of horse racing for black people today. The panel, hosted by The Undefeated’s writer-at-large William Rhoden, included Tony Wilson, a horse trainer from Camden, New Jersey, who has won more than 100 races and 10 stakes races; Katherine Mooney, an assistant professor of history at Florida State University; and Rhiannon Walker, an associate editor for The Undefeated. All three panelists spoke at length about the history of horse racing, its young, talented black heroes, their disappearance from the sport and whether horse racing will ever see black dominance again.

Melissa Bunni Elian for The Undefeated

At the first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in 1875, 13 of the 15 jockeys competing were black. Fifteen of the first 28 winners were African-American men, according to a video researched and voiced by Walker about the history of black jockeys.

For now, Owens hopes to continue spreading the word and hidden history through his efforts in Harlem.

“The [Harlem Derby] is growing every year,” Owens said. “Now, there are Derby parties all up and down Lenox Avenue now. I’m glad for that. I want them to spread the history. For us, it’s about substance. It’s a party with a purpose and celebrating America’s first superstar athletes.”