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Nike recently dropped their third version of a collection of HBCU-inspired clothing and accessories.
Known as the Yardrunners Class, the collection pays homage to 19 HBCUs, including North Carolina A&T University, Spelman University, Howard University and Morehouse University amongst others. This year, Prairie View A&M, Hampton University and Grambling State University joined the collection as new additions.
Created in honor of the school’s history and heritage, the Yardrunners Class celebrates the work of former HBCU students. Of the designers, four alumni are women who previously attended or are still attending Tennessee State University, Clark Atlanta University, North Carolina A&T University and Florida A&M University. Through their work, co-creators Kalynn Terrell, Heather Haynes, Caitlyn Davis and Arial Robinson use school colors and logos to pay tribute to their HBCUs.
The collection’s main mission this year is to highlight the ideas of alumni who’ll influence upcoming HBCU students.
“The first iteration of Yardrunners recognized HBCU business owners and entrepreneurs at the forefront of shaping culture,” said Nike in an official press release per news outlet AspireTV. “This was followed by a focus on the duality of the HBCU student-athlete, who is often under-represented but over-achieves on and off the field. The next evolution of Nike Yardrunners is focused on HBCU alumni who are forging a legacy that will inspire future generation.”
Founded in 2020 by the company, the Nike Yardrunners Collection is just one of the ways that the athletic wear company is committing itself to championing diversity, equity and inclusion. Along with multiple clothing collaborations, Nike, working alongside Jordan brands and founder Michael Jordan, also pledged a $140 million Black Community Commitment fund that they’ve been working towards fulfilling since 2020.
Through their commitment, the company has given national grants to Black-led nonprofits such as All Star Code, Son of a Saint, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the Equal Justice Initiative among others.
Nike has also committed itself to diversifying their company on the inside. According to a company report from March, the athleticwear company reported that the number of members from BIPOC communities that are at the director level or above increased by over four percent from the previous year, making up 30% of the company’s top-level officials. Compared to 2019, the number has increased significantly from when only 21% of vice presidents were from BIPOC communities.
“We believe NIKE, Inc. (Nike, Converse and Jordan brand) should reflect the athletes we honor and the people around the world who love our products,” said the company in an online statement. “To achieve that, we’re building the structures, hiring practices and culture to empower representation and opportunity at all levels of the company.”