Breaking Down Barriers: Converse honors key players with their new collection
If you’re familiar with African-American culture, you’re most probably aware that yesterday (today in the US) was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This also kicks off their celebration of Black History Month. For those who follow the NBA and the footwear industry, it’s also an opportunity for the brands to honor key players and athletes that helped mold the game to what it is today.
For Converse, they unveiled their ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ Collection, where they celebrate Chuck Cooper, Nat Clifton, and Earl Lloyd’s contribution to the NBA.
Back in 1950, Charles ‘Chuck Cooper’ broke the league’s color barrier as he was drafted to the Boston Celtics with the 13th overall pick. What was touching was when reporters asked then-Celtics owner Walter Brown if he knew Cooper was black, Brown said “I don’t give a damn if he’s striped or plaid or polka-dot, Boston takes Charles Cooper of Duquesne!”. Cooper went on to play for 4 years in Boston and ended his pro career with the For Wayne Pistons.
Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton was the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract with the Knickerbockers. Not only did he help the Knicks make it to the NBA Finals, he was also named an All-Star.
Lastly, there’s Earl Lloyd, the first African American to play in the NBA back in 1950 for the Washington Capitols. Although he played for three franchises, he was part of the Syracuse Nationals’ title run in 1955.
While their careers may seem “average”, all three helped break dowb barriers for future generations after leaving the league. Clifton continues to work with the Knicks and also created the Sweetwater Clifton ‘City Spirit’ Award for local New York heroes. Cooper, with his master’s degree in social work, became the first African American director in the City of Pittsburgh’s history as Director of Parks & Recreation. Lloyd’s moved on from playing to mentoring underprivileged children and assisting with job training skills.
In honor of these athletes, Converse has committed donations to the estastes of the athletes:
- Nat Clifton: The family has chosen to make a donation to American Heart Association.
- Chuck Cooper: The Chuck Cooper Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is dedicated to honoring the life and achievements, and continuing the legacy of Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, Charles “Chuck” Cooper, the first African-American drafted into the National Basketball Association, by awarding graduate-level scholarships and providing leadership development programs, mentoring and networking opportunities to underserved students.
- Earl Lloyd: Earl Lloyd Foundation, a non-profit organization using all of our talents and abilities and alliances to help enrich the lives of our young people.
The Converse ‘Breaking Down Barriers’ collection releases on January 24 at Sole Academy (BHS, ATC, SA online) and select Converse PH stores. The Converse Chuck 70 is set to retail for Php 4,990.