Culture

ESPN to put HBCU culture in focus on First Take

After First Take at HBCU week was a hit, ESPN decided to give Stephen A. Smith’s HBCU and others the national spotlight.

One HBCU had a leg up

Coordinating producer Antoine Lewis said it was important to try to touch HBCUs in as many regions as possible when it came down to choosing schools.

“When we sat down and we looked at the schools that we could potentially do this with — partner with — we wanted it to be regional balanced. Just kind of go to different regions and not all be entered east or southeast or just in the south, so we just kind of looked at some schools and some areas that we could go to and that would partner with us.”

Of course, one school was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

“Off the top, out of the gate, one school already had a slot penciled in,” Lewis said. “Because with Stephen A. affiliated with Winston-Salem State, it was a no-brainer to do Winston-Salem State. And then we kind of looked around to see where else we could go and which schools we could go and spread the wealth a little bit.”

ESPN worked on the content for the show with the schools involved, primarily from pre-covid games and events. Dunn told us that WSSU would have some live video. 

“You will see a little bit of flavor because we do have a camera crew there,” Dunn said. “It’s a small crew, obeying COVID-restrictions. But you’ll see the band at Winston-Salem State during the show and you’ll see a couple of step performances from a fraternity and sorority.”  

The producers say it is their goal to expose viewers to HBCU life in general as well as the individual universities.

‘If people watch— if alums write in and tell the ESPN bosses that was great that you did this…if there’s more of a groundswell and an organic grassroots following of this, I think that bodes well,’ Lewis said. “We’re committed to doing this show and we’re committed to doing this as a company, but that external feedback always helps.”

“I’m excited about it, I think our entire crew is excited about it— I know Stephen A. Is excited about it,” Dunn said. “So, hopefully it will come off very well.” 

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ESPN to put HBCU culture in focus on First Take
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