In the United States and Canada, February is Black History Month. An entire month that honors important people and events in the history of the African diaspora mostly into North America. In light of recent events and fears raised since the election of new US President Donald J. Trump, many athletes and celebrities have been vocal in expressing their concerns regarding the president’s policies.
With these in mind, Nike and long-time agency Wieden+Kennedy released a new ad that debuted during the airing of the 59th Grammy Awards broadcast on CBS. Shot in stark black and white and directed by Melina Matsoukas, the ad dubbed ‘Equality’ is narrated by actor Michael B. Jordan of Creed and Fruitvale Station fame.
Several Nike signature athletes such as NBA players LeBron James and Kevin Durant, tennis superstar Serena Williams, football player Megan Rapinoe, NFL wide receiver Victor Cruz, track and field star Dalilah Muhammad, and gymnast Gabby Douglas appear. Jordan himself appears in the ad, as does musician Alicia Keys as she covers Sam Cooke’s soul classic “A Change is Gonna Come.”
Even as each celebrity is presented in the foreground, unnamed people are playing basketball, soccer, and tennis or are running in the background. Some of the athletes are shown using spraypaint to extend lines that usually mark basketball or tennis courts and football pitches to represent breaking down borders.
Jordan’s powerful words resonate throughout the one minute and 30 seconds of running time and he ends by saying, “If we can be equals here…” before James completes the sentence with, “we can be equals everywhere.” The final graphic presents the words, “Equality has no boundaries.”
The full copy of what Michael B. Jordan narrates says:
“Is this the land history promised?
This field of play.
Where the dream of fairness and mutual respect lives on.
Where you are defined by actions, not your looks and beliefs.
For too long these ideals have taken refuge inside these lines.
Equality should have no boundaries.
The bond between players should exist between people.
Opportunity should be indiscriminate.
Worth should outshine color.
The ball should bounce the same for everyone.
If we can be equals here, we can be equals everywhere.“
This is part of Nike’s Equality initiative following partnerships made with PeacePlayers International and Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership.
A behind-the-scenes video was also posted on YouTube, where each of the celebrities speak on how sports can often allow people to compete on a level playing field whereas society in general might not give that same equality based on race or gender.