NFL To Celebrate Diversity At Panthers/Falcons Game As 3 HBCUs Set To Perform

NFL To Celebrate Diversity At Panthers/Falcons Game As 3 HBCUs Set To Perform

Carolina Panthers attempt to turn heal the racial scars of former team owner Jerry Richardson by celebrating Black culture.

As part of the NFL’s Inspire Change game, the contest between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons will feature performances from North Carolina A&T’s “Blue and Gold Machine” marching band, South Carolina State University’s “Champagne” dancers, and the Winston-Salem State “Powerhouse” cheerleaders at various points in the Dec. 17 game.

According to QCity Metro, the game’s theme is Representation Matters: Celebrating Black Culture, and on that note, the Winston-Salem State cheerleaders are set to make history as the first CIAA cheerleading team to perform alongside NFL cheerleaders. 

The head coach of the Winston-Salem State squad, NeShelia Washington, told QCity Metro that she appreciated the moment, telling the outlet, “This is a remarkable opportunity to showcase the wonderful talent of our cheerleaders and represent our university during this historical moment.” 

Quentin DeBerry, the director of Inclusion & Belonging at Tepper Sports & Entertainment, which is owned by the principal owner of the Carolina Panthers, David Tepper, indicated that merging the two initiatives establishes the synergy between the new organization’s ownership and the NFL’s value of diversity.

“Inclusion is not a one-time decision; it’s the daily choice to open our hearts, expand our perspectives, and actively invite everyone to the table. Each day, we have the power to choose unity over division,” DeBerry explained, “By integrating our Representation Matters initiative into the Panthers Inspire Change game, we are actively participating in the ongoing dialogue around equity, justice, and community.”

Tepper took over as owner of the Carolina Panthers following Jerry Richardson’s departure amid allegations of the use of sexually suggestive language and behavior, as well as at least one instance of using a racial slur to describe one of the team’s Black scouts. According to Sports Illustrated, an investigation into Richardson was started by the Panthers organization, which the NFL would eventually take over. It culminated with Richardson’s agreement to sell the team at the conclusion of the 2017 season without any apology or acknowledgment of his alleged conduct. In June 2018, the NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million after their investigation found “no evidence” that would “discredit the claims made or that would undermine the veracity of the employees who made those claims.”

RELATED CONTENT: NFL’s First Openly Trans Cheerleader, Justine Lindsay, Talks First Season As Carolina TopCat