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Plenty to Celebrate as We Mark Black History Month (2.26.2023)

Super Bowl LVII made history in several ways.  One of them is Autumn Lockwood, at only 29, made Black History this year by becoming the 1st Black woman to coach in the Super Bowl.  Not only that, she has a connection to the Ohio Valley.  She is one of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching team by being a part of the Sports Conditioning Coaching team.  She has been with the Eagles since August 2022.  Before her present position she was the Sports performance coach at the University of Houston.  She has a Master Degree in Sports Management from East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee.  While at the University she mainly worked with the men’s and women’s basketball team.  Earlier in her academic career studies she played soccer while attending the University of Arizona.  There she also worked with the strength and conditioning of the university’s cheerleading team.


It is reported that Autumn worked with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she worked as the football team’s strength and conditioning coaching assistant.  She also worked with the Atlanta Falcons.  It is a special note that her father, David Lockwood, was the former UNLV Coach.   Her father at one time was the starting cornerback for West Virginia University.  No wonder Autumn Lockwood spent some time in Morgantown, WV and attended University High School. 


It is said that she is the fourth woman to coach in the NFL where several of these women were of color.


Another item for the history books with this past Super Bowl is that the Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback, Jalen Hurts, and Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, were the first time two black quarterbacks played against each other.  There have only been eight Black quarterbacks to play in the NFL Superbowl in the NFL’s  103-year history.  The 1st was Doug Williams of the Washington Redskins in the 1987 season. He was also the first Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl.  2nd was Steve McNair of the Tennessee Titans, who lost in 1999.  3rd was Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles who lost in the 2004 season.  4th was Collin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers who also lost in the 2012 season. 5th was Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks he won in the 2013 season and lost in the 2014.  6th was Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers who lost in the 2015 season.  7th was Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles who just lost this year’s Super Bowl.  The 8th is the only one that has been in 3 Super Bowls.  That is Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.  He won in the 2019 season, lost in the 2020 season, and won again a few days ago for the 2022 season.


This is amazing when you think that Fritz Pollard is considered by some to be the first black quarterback and the first black coach in the NFL in the early 1920’s.   It is reported that there was an official ban on black players until it was lifted in 1946.  There became diversity in every player position but the quarterback position.  Quarterbacks were the last player position to become desegregated.


There have only been four black coaches that have made it to the Super Bowl. The first two black coaches played each other in 2007 for the 2006 season championship; Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts won over Louie Smith of the Chicago Bears.  The third is Mike Tomlin who has been to the Super Bowl twice.  He won in 2009 for the 2008 season, and also the youngest coach to win at the time.  Then lost in 2011 for the 2010 season. He is still the only coach in the Steelers franchise history to never have a losing season.  The last is Jim Caldwell who coached in 2010 for the 2009 season in the Super Bowl and lost with the Indianapolis Colts.


Only 24 men in 103 years have ever served as a Black Coach in the NFL.  70 % of all players in the NFL are Black, but only 7 teams at the most out of 32 teams have ever had black coaches.  At the time of this writing there are only 3 Black coaches in the NFL. DeMeco Ryan’s of the Houston Texans, Todd Bowles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.   

Here are some other notable things in Black History that should be noted as well.  This year the U.S. Congress House Democratic Party made history by electing New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.  This made him the 1st Black American to lead a major political party in Congress.  He is now the House Minority Leader.


Black History facts like: Cynthia Marshall is the 1st Black Female CEO of an NBA Team – the Dallas Mavericks in 2018.   Shirley Chisholm was the 1st Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress and the 1st Black woman to run for the President of United States from a major political party.  Kamala Harris the 1st Black, 1st South Asian American and 1st woman Vice President of the United States.  Dr. W.E. DuBois – 1st Black man to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University.   Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens, is the only black woman to currently lead a Fortune 500 company.  Before this she was the leadership of Starbucks and Sam’s Club.


Victor J. Glover, Jr. is the 1st Black Astronaut to live and work at the International Space Station for an extended stay.  Amanda Gorman at 22 years old is the youngest poet at a presidential inaugural in U. S. History.   Rashida Jones is the president of MSNBC and the 1st Black executive to run a major TV News Network.  Sydney Barber is the 1st Black female Brigade Commander at the U. S. Naval Academy.


Jason Wright at 38 years of age is the 1st Black president of an NFL team.  He is the president of the Washington Football team.  Currently, he is also the youngest president of an NFL team.  Dana Canedy, is the first woman, first black, and the youngest woman to be the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes and is now the Vice President of Simon & Schuster.


Many have said that Black History should no longer be celebrated.  That to talk about it makes others feel sad.  All history of all races has elements of sadness.  No wonder, Winston Churchill said it in one speech, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  Others have said this as well.  May we be open to learn from all history of all races, celebrating the good, and learning from the bad.


Darrell W. Cummings,

Pastor of Bethlehem Apostolic Temple, Wheeling, 

& Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly, Weirton, WV