Two Black quarterbacks will start against each other for the first time in the history of the Super Bowl when the Philadelphia Eagles face off against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts matchup feels to us more of an acknowledgement than an achievement, more of a storyline similar to Travis and Jason Kelce becoming the first brothers to play against each other in the NFL’s championship game.
But Mahomes and Hurst starting does comes in the middle of Black History Month—55 years after Marlin Briscoe started a game for the AFL’s Denver Broncos, 54 years since James Harris became the first Black quarterback to start a game in the NFL, and 35 years since Doug Williams led the then Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl.
The two stars understand the significance of the moment.
“To have two Black quarterbacks starting in the Super Bowl, I think it’s special,” said Mahomes.
Hurst added, “I think it’s come a long way. I think there’s only been seven African American quarterbacks to play in the Super Bowl. To be the first for something is pretty cool.”
We will be honest, we didn’t realize the significance until it was pointed out to us. Which reinforces the point of Black History Month—there is so much we do not know in a mainstream way when it comes to the contributions of Black men and women that have moved America forward.
There is a loud minority that will express their annoyance of why the issue of the quarterback’s skin is even being raised, undoubtedly to be followed by a diatribe about DEI, corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion practices And those people are missing the big picture of what makes America great—its melting pot that allows the chance for success no matter the color of your skin, the God you pray to or the partner you share the accomplishments with. Yes, their success is what should be celebrated most but the discrimination they have and continue to face is part of that conversation.
There is nothing wrong with commemorating such a milestone of two Black quarterbacks starting in the same football game for the first time.
We live in a time where diversity is equally being celebrated and pushed back against. Just look at our school systems—in the same month that Black History is part of the curriculum, the Florida county that hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars has removed the biographies of Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente. Closer to home, hundreds of people showed up to successfully fight back efforts to ban LGBTQ+ books in Glen Ridge.
Black History Month is a celebration of American greatness, how our fellow citizens have risen from slavery where they were considered to be less than their White counterparts to be leaders in business, politics as well as arts and entertainment. It promotes how diversity is a strength of the United States. It wasn’t that far back in history that Catholics, Irish and Italians met with the same hate that those of the Jewish and Islamic faith face today.
But we see everyday that we still have ways to go. Progress has been and continues to be made. Celebrating and being educated about different cultures allows us to understand that there are more things that we have in common than separate us.
While we are all Americans, most came from somewhere else. We are all proud of our heritage and what those with the same background as us have achieved. And learning about that should be the universal lesson of celebrating Black History Month.