BLACK HISTORY MONTH IS THE REMEMBRANCE OF NOTABLE PEOPLE AND EVENTS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY THAT HAS BEEN CELEBRATED ANNUALLY IN THE UNITED STATES IN FEBRUARY SINCE 1976. THE REMEMBRANCE HAS ITS ROOTS IN 1926 BY HISTORIAN CARTER G. WOODSON. HE CHOSE THE SECOND WEEK IN FEBRUARY BECAUSE IT MARKED THE BIRTHDAYS OF TWO AMERICANS WHO GREATLY INFLUENCED THE LIVES AND SOCIAL CONDITIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS: FORMER PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND ABOLITIONIST AND FORMER SLAVE FREDERICK DOUGLASS.
Ruffles, Giant and the Washington Wizards are proud to honor the great and countless contributions of African Americans. In addition to events throughout the community, the wizards will spotlight and honor various African Americans making a positive difference in their communities. The spotlights will take place during four Wizards home games in February. The Wizards will honor individuals that are making a difference in their communities using the pillars supported by the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. The five pillars are hunger and homelessness, military and veteran, health and fitness, education and youth basketball.
Black History Spotlight Honoree: Rochelle Coleman
Game Date: 2/1/18 vs. Raptors
MSE Pillar: Youth Basketball
Rochelle Coleman is a Washington, DC area native from Burtonsville, Maryland. She attended Syracuse University for her undergrad where she was also a member of the women’s basketball team. Rochelle received her Master’s Degree from Slippery Rock University and also served as a graduate assistant coach for the women’s basketball program. In May 2015, Rochelle became part of PeacePlayers International (www.peaceplayers.org).
Rochelle began as a Project Coordinator for the Washington, DC Leadership Development Program, where she worked with a group of youth from the Washington, DC area. Rochelle led weekly basketball and leaderships training, a variety of service projects and two visits to PeacePlayers International sites. Currently, Rochelle is a Program Manager overseeing the development of PeacePlayers new domestic sites, serving Baltimore as well as working on numerous technical assistance projects domestically and internationally.
Founded in 2001, PeacePlayers is globally recognized for uniting divided communities through basketball. PeacePlayers offers sport programming, peace education, and leadership development to those living in communities in conflict. In 2017, PeacePlayers launched year-round programming in the United States with a focus on changing perceptions and building youth leaders through the power of sport. PeacePlayers is working to expand opportunities and support for youth and their communities, including local law enforcement, and is currently operating year-round programs in Baltimore, Brooklyn, and Detroit. Through an innovative program guided by core peacemaking principles, PeacePlayers has been joining communities through sport for over 15 years in some of the world’s toughest areas, including the Middle East, South Africa, Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
Black History Spotlight Honoree: Sherman Gillums Jr.
Game Date: 2/8/18 vs. Celtics
MSE Pillar: Military and Veterans
Sherman Gillums Jr. served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terror eras, starting in 1990 at age 17. During his 12-year military career, he was meritoriously promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in 1999 and was commissioned an officer in 2001. He was honorably discharged in 2002 following severe injury, after which he went on to pursue a new career in veteran advocacy.
In 2004, Sherman began his work as a champion for severely wounded veterans as a VA benefits claims expert in San Diego, where he assisted veterans, families, and survivors with fighting for their entitlements. He later worked as an appellate representative at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC, and he became the executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America in January 2016. He recently joined American Veterans, also known as AmVets, as the organization’s new Chief Strategy Officer. A well respected commentator with an ability to “move the needle” on veterans issues, Sherman has written opinion editorials for the NY Times, The Hill, and Task & Purpose publications. He has testified before Congress as an expert witness on veterans benefits and has appeared on CNN, Fox, CBS News, and C-SPAN. Today, he serves as Vice Chairman on the Federal Advisory Committee for Veterans’ Family, Caregiver, and Survivor and a Consumer Reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.
Sherman is a graduate of University of San Diego's School of Business Administration and completed his executive education at Harvard Business School.