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Black American Soccer History is American Soccer History

As we begin Black History Month, the hope is that we can continue the journey of learning about this important history.

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Goalie Briana Scurry of the US team blocks a penal Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Today is February 1st, which marks the beginning of Black History Month in America. It’s where we as a nation stop to celebrate the achievements that Black people have made over the course of our history and the many things they have provided to the United States and the world. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the many hardships that Black people have faced throughout our history and that they continue to endure today.

The soccer world is no different. American soccer history is full of Black players, coaches, and other contributors that have helped shape how we view our soccer. From the very first Black soccer players, the Watson brothers, to players currently on the USWNT or USMNT like Sophia Smith, Jaedyn Shaw, or Tyler Adams, that are the present and future of our teams.

Back in December, I had the high privilege of presenting for the Society of American Soccer History, teaching the many spectators that Black American soccer history is American soccer history. Our history is shaped by the many contributions that Black soccer players have made and the lessons that they have bestowed upon us are ones that we should continue to hold high when we think about the history of the beautiful game in this country.

So, as we do every February, we bring some of those stories to the forefront. We don’t just focus on the ones that we may not know, but also the ones we do. Because in every story or moment, there’s a lesson to be learned if you seek that knowledge. And my hope is that this month, everyone takes some time every single day to read up on a story from our Black History Month hub, which will be pinned to the front page. Listen to podcasts from some of the prominent Black soccer journalists, as they’re focusing on some of these stories as well as doing the work to highlight the Black soccer players that will be the future core of our national teams. I hope to feature some more of these stories both here and on the USA Soccercast throughout the month.

The journey of knowledge that I embarked on 6 years ago continues, and as always, I invite you to join me in that journey. The best way for us to improve our soccer is to learn and re-learn the history that brought us to this point, to recognize the hardships that people of color continue to endure in the sport, and to have the hard conversations with each other and think deeply about the changes that need to happen. Most importantly, we have to show the courage necessary to stand up against those acts and actors that seek to impede our progress. Only then can our soccer nation unite under the banner of the diversity that defines us.

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For more Black History Month stories, check out our Black History Month hub. We will be bringing stories throughout the month to highlight some of the biggest moments in Black American and world soccer history.