The 2020 NFL Season Protests and Fight for Change

 Aliyu Saadu- Staff Writer

New York Times

National Football League (NFL) players have been protesting during the National Anthem since the beginning of the 2020-21 season to use their platform to fight for equality in the U.S.

“We’re going to stand behind our players, we respect our players and they have done a great job of bringing attention to these issues,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an interview on Squawk Alley. “Our focus now is, ‘How do we support them making the changes?”

The start of the NFL season has been historic due football playing during a pandemic, having no fans in the stadiums, and players protesting during the National Anthem. Through the league players have been protesting and outspoken for change to ensure that their voices are heard.

During Week 1 of NFL games, teams played the National Negro Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, and the National Anthem, Star Spangled Banner, before the start of their games. In the season game opener between the Houston Texans vs. Kansas Chiefs, the Texans chose to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthems. Teams across the league locked arms in unity, kneeled, or remained in the locker room during the anthem just as the Texans.

“It is not about the flag,” Goodell said. “The message here [is] that what our players are doing is being mischaracterized. These are not people who are unpatriotic. They’re not disloyal, They’re not against our military,” said Goodell in Emmanuel Acho’s Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man YouTube series. “What they were trying to do is exercise their right to bring attention to something that needs to get fixed.”

These NFL players have made it known that they are not here just to entertain, but having their voices heard. The deaths of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky earlier this year fueled players to be active in the fight for social justice through their season.

This has led the NFL launched the NFL Votes Initiative in August to promote fans to vote and get more people in at voting polls. The NFL has partnered with the Rock the Vote, RISE to Vote and I am a Voter to promote educational seminars and help with registrations for all NFL personnel. There have been 14 teams that will use their stadiums as a voting poll in November. The NFL is reaching out to their employees and fans to help out on election day to replace the older workers that are at high risk for COVID-19. Lastly, the NFL has committed $250 million to combat systemic racism in the next ten years.

“The days of ‘sports and social issues aren’t going to mix,’ that’s the old world, these issues are top of mind, and the players are going to use their platforms,” said social justice activist and the Executive Chairman of Fanatics Michael Rubin in an interview with New York Times. “I don’t see any chance of this reversing course.”

It has been over four years since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first player to kneeled to protest racism and police brutality. This may have led to the end of his career as a player, but it has been the spark that has led to the protests and social justice fight in the NFL. As the season goes on, NFL Players look to continue to use their national platform this year to keep the momentum and fight for equality in the United States.

Jermaine Marrow becomes HU’s all-time leading scorer

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Stephen Baker

Jermaine Marrow made history last week by becoming Hampton University’s all-time leading scorer in men’s basketball. In doing so, he passed former NBA Star Rick Mahorn. 

“It was a goal I had in mind when I first committed here, and it feels good to reach that goal,” Marrow said in an interview with the Daily Press. “I remember everyone telling me I needed two more points, three more points to get the record.”

Marrow, who’s known for scoring buckets in high quantity, wasn’t having the best game. While he accounted for 13 points in the first half, he was held scoreless until the 4:52 mark when he hit a layup that tied the mark. He was then fouled, went to the free throw line and hit both shots, passing Mahorn.

The entire crowd knew how close Marrow was to the record, and when he did eclipse it, they erupted. Coach Buck Joyner also called a timeout so that Marrow could briefly bask in the moment. 

Marrow was greeted by smiles and handshakes from his teammates before closing out the game with a 80-70 win over UNC Asheville.

“It was an exciting moment,” Hampton senior Cameron Austin said. “I knew he could get buckets, but becoming Hampton’s all-time leading scorer is a feat that I never thought I’d see.

“I hope that he continues to ball and gets a chance in the NBA.” 

Marrow has been a hometown hero for some time now. He attended high school at Heritage High School in Newport News, where he averaged 31 points per game.

After the season concludes, Marrow plans to declare for the NBA Draft. Last year, he tested his stock to see what scouts were saying but ultimately decided to return back to Hampton. Marrow will finish the season with the most prolific career in Hampton University basketball history before taking his talents to the big stage.

Another XFL, 19 years later

Justin Whitner | Staff Writer

When the XFL began its first go-around in 2001, it was a professional American football lea gue that wanted to pounce on the idea that football season could still stay relevant after the completion of the NFL and NCAA seasons.

The XFL set off as a joint venture between the World Wrestling Federation and NBC. WWF owner Vince McMahon promoted the outdoor football league with fewer rules, faster play time and more excitement on the field. The first XFL league had eight teams in two divisions. The 2020 version will repeat that same league plan with hopes that this second go-around with the league will go much differently.

  In the first week of the XFL season in 2020, much like in 2001, many viewers tuned in to the opening day of games. Two games were on Fox, one on ABC and one on ESPN. The four games averaged 3.12 million viewers and a 1.0 rating among adults ages 18-49.

Those ratings were in line with the inaugural prime-time game for the Alliance of American Football on CBS last year that averaged 3.25 million viewers, 0.9 in adults 18-49. However, the AAF didn’t get a chance to even finish its season as it suspended operations the 9th week of the 10-game season.

Fox’s Sunday afternoon XFL game had the biggest audience with 3.39 million viewers, while ESPN’s Sunday telecast was the smallest of the four with just under 2.5 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

  “I think the XFL has a better foundation, and I think they came with a different approach,” Hampton University football player Justin Lawson said. “The XFL has its own set of rules that makes it more interesting to watch. The XFL is also accessible on channels like Fox and Fox1; it also comes on ABC, which tells you that the XFL has network approval and people are actually watching.”

  The rule changes and opportunities in the XFL, along with the quality of play, drew largely positive reviews on opening weekend. Although the kickers are undermined, and their value is decreased with no more punting out of bounds, kickoffs are backed up, more returns are allowed and no more extra-point kicks, it seems to have brought a different style to the game of football.

In 2001, the partnership between McMahon and NBC resulted in 14 million viewers for its prime-time opener. After the first game, however, the ratings went all the way down, and that XFL failed just after one season. NBC and the WWF both lost $35 million on their $100 million investment in the league’s inaugural season, according to Forbes.

“For the XFL to stay relevant, it has to get a specific fan base, and the city they have placed themselves in will help them reach those places because only the fans keep the team alive.” Lawson said. “Like the DC defenders had a showing yesterday that was pretty good, and their quarterback Cardale Jones is not bad.”

The XFL has started off on the same path as it did in 2001, but it will have to do things extremely different this go-around in order to keep the league afloat.

NBA trade deadline recap

Justin Norris | Staff Writer

Although no stars were moved during the NBA’s trade deadline, plenty of teams made moves they think will upgrade their roster.

Some teams, such as the Houston Rockets, Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers, made moves that further emphasized their win-now attitudes in a championship race that is more open than it has been in at least five years. The Los Angeles Lakers were the most notable team to stand pat at the deadline. 

The Houston Rockets doubled down on their small-ball philosophy by trading away starting center Clint Capela, their 2020 first-round pick and Gerald Green for Robert Covington and a future second round pick. Trading Capela means that PJ Tucker will play center full time for the Rockets in a lineup where no player will be taller than Covington, who is 6-foot-7. The move will create more driving lanes for James Harden and Russell Westbrook while enabling Houston to play a five-out offense for virtually the entire game to maximize 3-point attempts and shots at the rim, while allowing them to switch anything defensively without putting any player at a major size advantage defensively. 

Ever since GM Daryl Morey acquired Harden from Oklahoma City in one of the most lopsided trades of all time, he has been determined to maximize Houston’s championship window, which is directly tied to Harden’s shelf life as a superstar. 

With the Golden State Warriors out of the championship picture this year, it was assumed Morey would make a win-now move to take advantage of the abdicated Western Conference throne. Morey even admitted in an interview with ESPN in 2017 that last year that he was “obsessed” with beating Golden State because he knew that the road to the NBA Finals ran through Golden State. 

The Miami Heat sent Justise Winslow, James Johnson and Dion Waiters to the Memphis Grizzlies for Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill. Iguodala was one of the most coveted names on the market for his playmaking acumen, defensive chops and championship experience, and Crowder and Hill are wings capable of making open 3-pointers and holding their own defensively. 

Additionally, Miami was able to rid itself of Waiters, who had fallen out of favor with coach Erik Spoelstra after having multiple detrimental conduct issues with the team. Jimmy Butler’s arrival in Miami this past summer made Winslow’s presence somewhat redundant as a defensive-minded playmaking wing with a questionable jump shot. 

Nazim Trammell-Wells, a Hampton University senior journalism major from Philadelphia, really liked the Heat’s deadline acquisitions. 

“The move to get Iggy and Crowder definitely shifts us into a win now mentality,” he said. “Pat Riley is a great GM, and he is constantly finding pieces to have us in the conversation to both make a deep run, while also acquiring talent.”

This trade deepens Miami’s rotation, gives Spoelstra even more lineup flexibility and firmly puts the Heat into the tier of Eastern Conference contenders below Milwaukee, which includes Philadelphia, Boston and Toronto. 

The Los Angeles Clippers acquired coveted forward Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks. Morris had been linked to both Los Angeles teams before the deadline, and he and Iguodala were two of the most highly sought after players on the market. While Morris represents another viable 3-and-D and scoring option for the already loaded Clippers, perhaps the biggest boon of this transaction is that the Clippers kept him away from their locker room roommates, the Los Angeles Lakers. Morris is averaging almost 20 points per game on 44 percent shooting from 3-point range. He is another wing defender who can at least hope to match up with LeBron James in a potential playoff series, if for no other reason than to keep Kawhi Leonard and Paul George fresh.

The Lakers chose to value team continuity and chemistry over perceived marginal upgrades at the trade deadline. The death of Kobe Bryant might have played a factor, as this team rallied and became closer than most in the weeks leading up to the deadline. Forward Kyle Kuzma’s name was circulating in trade rumors leading up to the deadline, but the Lakers decided to keep their streaky third-year scorer. In fact, Kuzma was rumored to be in discussions with the Knicks for Morris, but the Lakers must have decided that the price to acquire Morris was too steep. However, they are expected to be active in the buyout market, especially since free-agent guard and California native Darren Collison recently announced he will remain retired, to the chagrin of Lakers fans. 

John T. Harvey IV, a fourth-year in HU’s 5-year MBA program who is from Washington, D.C., laments the Lakers’ passiveness at the deadline.

“When you look at the Clippers, they are deep at every position and have already beaten the Lakers twice this season,” he said. “I was hoping that they would acquire Morris to even the scales, but it is unacceptable to allow him to go to our biggest competition. His shooting and defense would have made him a great fit on any team, but especially next to LeBron and AD.”

As with every season, time will tell if teams such as the Rockets and Heat did enough to vault themselves into true championship contention, and if the Clippers did enough to topple the Lakers in a playoff matchup. But all eyes will be on the Lakers and whether or not they were prudent in their refusal to trade Kuzma and disrupt their chemistry like they did at last season’s deadline.

NBA honors Kobe Bryant with All-Star tributes on and off the court

Keion Cage | Staff Writer

The NBA’s All-Star Game on Feb. 16 in Chicago celebrated some of the league’s best athletes. The association also changed the rules of the game to honor basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who died Jan. 26.

A frenetic fourth quarter featured fierce competitiveness worthy of Bryant. Several fouls, challenges and heated disputes occurred between players and referees – rarely seen in past All-Star games. 

“This fourth quarter of [the NBA All-Star Game] is an absolutely phenomenal look for the game of basketball,” ESPN journalist Stephen A. Smith wrote on Twitter. “This is what fans crave and the players delivered.”

Team LeBron was able to complete the comeback victory and beat Team Giannis, 157-155, with a free throw made by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis sealing the deal.

The NBA changed the All-Star MVP Award name to the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award. The Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard earned the honor with 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

“It’s very special,” Leonard said in an interview with ESPN. “Words can’t explain how happy I am to be able to put that trophy in my room and just be able to see Kobe’s name on there.”

The All-Star Game captains were the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team LeBron players wore No. 2 to honor Bryant’s daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, who died in the helicopter accident with her father. Team Antetokounmpo wore No. 24 to honor Kobe Bryant.

“It’s a big honor,” Antetokounmpo said in an interview with “I wouldn’t want it any other way representing Kobe and Gigi in [Sunday] night’s game.”

Singers, rappers and speakers shared words about Bryant before the game.

“Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced before the game. “He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world.”

In the first three quarters, the two teams competed in 12-minute periods, with the winner of each receiving $100,000 toward their team’s Chicago-based charities. In the final quarter, the scores from the first three quarters were added up, and the game clock was turned off. The fourth quarter was played until a team reached the final target score. The final target score was determined by the leading team’s total score in the first three quarters plus 24 to honor Bryant again. The winning team would get an additional $200,000 toward its charity.

Team LeBron took the first quarter with a score of 53-41. Team Giannis countered and won the second quarter, 51-30. The third quarter ended 41-41, causing the $100,000 in charity money to be carried over to the winner of the final quarter. Team Giannis led Team LeBron entering the fourth quarter, 133-124, making the final target score 157. 

Team LeBron earned $400,000 for the Chicago Scholars Foundation, and Team Giannis made $100,000 for After School Matters. 

Hampton commit receives McDonald’s All-American nomination

Amber Anderson | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: @chapternextphotography via Instagram 

The vision is clear and bright for Hampton University commit Victoria Davis, as she is one step closer to becoming a McDonald’s All-American athlete. Davis is living out a dream of many high school athletes. Along with more than 900 other high school basketball players across the country, she has been nominated for the McDonald’s All-American Game. 

The McDonald’s All-American Game has maintained a reputation for a difficult selective process. The names of the athletes have to be submitted and approved by a wide variety of judges. They include high school coaches, high school athletic directors, high school principals and McDonald’s All-American Games Selection Committee Members. What surprises people the most is there isn’t a set number on the amount of the nominees throughout the country.  

Once the voting committees cast their vote, 24 young women will have the opportunity to become a McDonald’s All-American. If selected, she will be playing with some of the best of the best on April 1 at the Toyota Center in Houston. 

Hampton students are excited to have Davis be a part of the Hampton family next season. Lanece Carpenter, a first-year player, believes that Davis could play a huge role in helping to make Hampton’s Lady Pirates basketball team a notable name. 

“Having an All-American girl play for Hampton will be a great achievement for Hampton, especially with the recruitment process,” Carpenter said. “It’ll help in putting Hampton on the map, considering the recent transition to the Big South Conference and allow the university to begin to dominate the conference in multiple sports.” 

  Not only is she one step closer to becoming an All-American athlete, but she is on her way to becoming a 6A state champion again with her teammates at Hamilton high school in Chandler, Arizona. 

Davis believes that it’s a team effort in order to find success. In an interview last month with the East Valley Tribune, Davis spoke about how she and her teammates have a clear understanding of what they need to do in order to win another state championship. 

“We lost a few seniors that had a big role, so it’s more stepping up to the plate, taking their position and still leading the team to state,” Davis said. “We know we still have most of the same people, and we know we can do it, it’s just doing the right things to get there.”

With her current mindset focused on hard work, there is little doubt about whether Davis succeeds as a Lady Pirate.

Pirates are the new fastest kids on the block

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer

After winning the Big South Conference Championship in both indoor and outdoor track and field, the Pirates athletic team was finally awarded their rings Jan. 23.

Since joining the Big South, it is no secret that some of Hampton’s athletic programs have had some growing pains. The program that has made the move almost flawlessly has been the HU track and field team. Track and field last year made a clean sweep, winning both indoor and outdoor track seasons in their first Big South season. Now, their aim is to repeat what they did last year.

Repeating is no easy task. Anyone who has ever played a sport knows that. Does Hampton have what is takes? When asked this, All-Conference Hampton hurdler Autumn Smith had plenty to say.  

“I think we can definitely repeat in winning both indoor and outdoor,” Smith said. “I think we all have individual talent, and it’s still super early, but once we learn how to put all the talent we share together, we’ll get it done. Especially for us seniors, this is our last go-round, so we’ve got to go out with a bang.”  

Hurdler Isaiah Norris also weighed on the current status of the team, saying, “I absolutely think we can win again. Even though some of our talented seniors from last year graduated, we’ve recruited some unbelievable freshmen with great potential. They seem up to the challenge when it comes to filling the shoes of the seniors. With that being said we also have multiple athletes who have a broad skill set and can do multiple events.”

A confident but justified group of leaders form this year’s team. Watching the team at the CNU track meet in the beginning of the year, observers could see the team’s domination over other programs. 

Even though the transition over to the Big South looked smooth, the athletes said it wasn’t all peaches and cream, and it wasn’t even 100 percent because of actual performance. 

  “Transitioning into the Big South was overall pretty smooth,” Norris said. “I’d say the only negativity we heard was from other HBCU supporters who were disappointed that HU left the MEAC. But the team wasn’t fazed at all.” 

When asked about the transition, Smith actually described it as exciting. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a smooth transition, but it also wasn’t a difficult one,” Smith said. “We all get out there and do what we need to do. There are areas we knew of beforehand we would struggle with, but I think we handle them well as a team.” 

It’s no secret that this team may have weaknesses, but it thrives with its strengths. It will be exciting to see if this year’s team can bring some more rings back to HU.

Chiefs rally for their first Super Bowl title in 50 years

Harrington Gardiner | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Dave Adamson

The Kansas City Chiefs rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20, in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 in Miami for their first NFL championship in 50 years.

This was the Chiefs’ second crown after downing the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Sunday’s game started off relatively slow in the first half. The defenses on both sides did everything possible to make life miserable for the opposing offenses, but it didn’t stop both teams from scoring touchdowns in the first half. The score was tied 10-10 before Shakira and Jennifer Lopez lit up the halftime show.

The story of the second half was focused on San Francisco’s inability to score and Kansas City stepping up when it was time to play defense on the biggest stage. 

The front seven for the 49ers, led by pass rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, made life difficult for the offensive tackles of the Chiefs. Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh came up with all sorts of blitzes to frustrate Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. San Francisco did a good job early of controlling the pace by running the ball and working the play-action pass. Jimmy Garoppolo made key throws in the first half, and the Niners offense was clicking on all cylinders. 

Even with the Niners playing well in the first half the biggest story outside of Mahomes’ performance was the 49ers losing control of the game. The Niners scored a touchdown and another field goal to go up 20-10 by the end of the third quarter, but when the fourth quarter came, nothing seemed to be going San Francisco’s way. The Niners seemed to have abandoned the run game late in the fourth and gave too much time on the clock for Mahomes and coach Andy Reid’s offense. The Chiefs would come back to make big plays on offense through the air, and the Chiefs defense, led by Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones, stood tall when it mattered for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. Kansas City proved that it had a solid defense after having to listen to many critics all season, and the Chiefs’ offense got back to its explosive play.

The Niners struggled to make stops and they gave up 21 unanswered points in the fourth. Garoppolo also struggled once the Chiefs defense applied pressure. Jimmy G completed 86 percent of his throws for 199 yards, one TD and a 119.5 passer rating without pressure. With pressure, Garoppolo had an abysmal 11 percent completion percentage, 20 yards and two interceptions.

Also, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan had another questionable fourth quarter. Shanahan has now been outscored 46-0 in the fourth quarter of Super Bowls as a play caller. This dates back to his time as offensive coordinator of the Falcons when they took on the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. 

The Chiefs came out victorious, and Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP, going 26-of-42 for 286 passing yards, two passing TDs and two picks. Mahomes shined bright in the biggest stage and is adding to what is already a promising career. And after 22 years, Reid finally won his first championship. The sky’s the limit for Kansas City, which has 10 of 11 offensive players under contract next season.

The impact of Kobe Bryant

Justin Whitner | Staff Writer

The day Kobe Bryant died – Jan. 26 – is widely regarded now as one of the saddest days in sports history. His death touched people all over the world. From fans, players and friends, millions of people gave tributes, said words or posted pictures of or with the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar.

  When Hampton University student Ny’Ombi Harrison heard the news, she figured it was just some fake talk that people were posting about on Twitter.

  “My 10-year-old brother called me and was almost in tears asking, ‘Is it true?’” Harrison said. “I had to reassure him that it was just rumors at the moment. I quickly realized just how much Kobe Bryant meant to every little black boy around the world. He was their Superman. Once it was confirmed, I was in shock and disbelief. The news was very heartbreaking and unsettling.”

Bryant was not only just a great basketball player; he had a mindset that was 

parallel to none.

  Although Bryant took a lot of heat for the way he played basketball and his mannerisms of always being locked in and focused, on and off the floor, after retiring from the NBA in 2016, his persona changed. Bryant won an Oscar for his “Dear Basketball” short film, he became more active in coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team and spent extra time with the family that he didn’t have when he was playing.

  “I myself was not a big fan, but almost every basketball fan I knew was, especially my dad,” Harrison said. “Kobe was a stand-up guy, on and off the court, and I have nothing but respect for him. I feel his death reminded me that life is too short, and it really made me think about my purpose in life and how I want to leave my legacy here on earth.”

  During the 100-days-until-graduation celebration, HU senior Brian White could be seen wearing a Bryant shirt with 8 on the front and 24 on the back – Kobe’s two uniform numbers with the Lakers.

  “It was phenomenal,” White said, speaking of the tribute before the Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers game Friday. “I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.”

  During the tribute, Lakers star LeBron James had a paper with some words already prepared to speak about Bryant, but he ended up tossing it and speaking from the heart.

  He closed his words by going back to Bryant’s retirement speech.

“In the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba Out,’” James said. “But in the words of us, ‘Not Forgotten.’”

James promised that he and the Lakers would carry on Bryant’s legacy on his back in his tribute post on Instagram as well. 

  Bryant was not only just a great basketball player; he had a mindset that was parallel to none. Playing through tons of injuries – ankle, knee, finger and so forth – he never backed down. Kobe promised to play when he had the opportunity and hated taking nights off. He changed the game of basketball for eternity by showing passion for the game from start to finish, no matter the matchup at hand.

Bryant was known for his scoring abilities and clutch gene on the basketball court, but he passed away as someone he had become off the court: A #GirlDad. 

Ex-NFL player Matthew Cherry tackles filmmaking, earns an Oscar nomination for Hair Love

Alazja Kirk | Staff Writer

From the NFL to Hollywood, the writer, director and filmmaker Matthew Cherry has had an impressive rise to the top.

The Chicago native is a former NFL receiver-turned-filmmaker who played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens. Cherry moved to L.A. to pursue a career in entertainment after his retirement in 2007. He’s worked as a production assistant on more than 40 commercials and 20 music videos.

Cherry’s latest project, Hair Love, received an Oscar nomination this month for best animated short film. Hair Love is about an African American father attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

Matthew Cherry joined Robin Roberts, Micheal Strahan and Lara Spencer on Good Morning America to talk about his career transition and how meaningful it has been to see the love and support for his short film.

“I moved to L.A. 13 years ago and kinda started over when I retired,” Cherry said in the interview. “And I started as a [production assistant] and kinda worked my way up doing music videos and short films — so to be here now at the highest level is so crazy.”

Cherry also spoke on the inspiration behind what made him want to create an animated short about an African American dad who learns how to do his young daughter’s hair.

“A couple of years ago, I was coming across a lot of viral videos about African American fathers that were doing their daughters’ hair,” he said. “It seemed like it was an anomaly. People were sharing it because they weren’t used to seeing it.”

Cherry spoke on how essential it is to normalize black men doing their daughters’ hair due to the stereotype they often face of not being involved in their children’s lives. He saw the importance of showcasing a strong black family unit and show that dads are present.

“This has to be one of the sweetest short films I’ve ever seen,” Hampton University senior Darius Hamb said. “He deserves everything that comes his way.”

Cherry has directed music videos for musical artists Beyoncé, Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland, Tweet, Jazmine Sullivan, Lalah Hathaway, Kindred The Family Soul, Snoop Dogg, The Foreign Exchange, Bilal, N’Dambi, Maysa Leak, Dwele, Najee, K’Jon and Chloe X Halle.

Cherry’s first feature film, The Last Fall, made its world premiere at South By Southwest in 2012 and received awards at the American Black Film Festival for Best Screenplay and Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival for the HBO Best Feature Film Award. The Last Fall was acquired by Image Entertainment, made its television premiere on BET in December 2012 and is currently streaming on Netflix and Hulu.

Cherry’s feature film 9 Rides premiered at SXSW in 2016 in the Narrative Spotlight category and stars Dorian Missick, Omar Dorsey, Robinne Lee, Xosha Roquemore, Amin Joseph, Skye P. Marshall, Thomas Q. Jones and Tracie Thoms.

Cherry also has directed the TBS series The Last OG, the CBS drama event series The Red Line executive produced by Ava DuVernay & Greg Berlanti, the ABC action-comedy series Whiskey Cavalier, CBS’ The Unicorn and most recently, ABC’s hit series Black-ish.

“It’s great to see positive examples like Matthew,” said Brittany Mimms, a fourth-year MBA major at Hampton University. “He shows young people that anything is possible to accomplish as long as you stay passionate and persistent.”