Magic Continue Black History Month Celebration with Virtual Town Hall Series

by Dan Savage

ORLANDO - The Orlando Magic are unwavering in their commitment to keep the conversation going about striving for racial equality and pursuing social and economic change.

Throughout the month of February, the Magic have hosted a series of virtual town halls that have focused on topics such as diversity, equity, inclusion and policy reform.

On Wednesday, Magic Chief Diversity Officer Esu Ma'at, Virtus Law Managing Partner Camille Evans, African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida President Tanisha Nunn Gary, Lee Wesley Director of Finance Brandon Lee, Florida Blue Central Region Market President Tony Jenkins, and Disney Director of Supplier Diversity Leonard Spencer held a conversation around the importance of supporting local minority and women-owned businesses in the latest installment of the series.

“I think it’s great and Esu has done a great job of really establishing that as one of his first kind of initiatives that he’s had a chance to organize,” Magic Head Coach Steve Clifford said. “As an organization, I know it’s important to all of us and to our players that even while the pandemic is going on, we want to do things to raise awareness and keep the conversation going.”

The discussion touched on workforce development, the Magic’s training center, small business impact, and the Diversity Supplier Program.

“When we start talking about fostering a culture of respect, belonging and inclusion, those are universal concepts,” Ma'at said. “Find me the person who doesn’t want to work for a place where they feel they have the opportunity to contribute in a very meaningful way.”

The Magic continue to strive to be at the forefront in all of the aforementioned areas. The organization has given over $1 million to diverse suppliers since the construction of Amway Center and they’re committed to utilizing diverse suppliers in both the construction of the team’s AdventHealth Training Center and the sports and entertainment district that will be built across from the arena.

The impact of utilizing diverse suppliers is not just limited to the Magic or the NBA. Their partners and other key businesses in Central Florida are focusing on the value of supporting local minority and women-owned businesses.

“When we think about supplier diversity and all the things that happen, at Disney we really believe that inclusion is a critical part for us in terms of telling the best stories, being relevant and expanding our audiences,” Spencer said. “When we look at the ideas and decisions that come from all people, they’re going to help us grow, they’re going to help us be innovative, and they’re going to help us create the best stories.”

The virtual town hall series is just one of many ways the Magic plan to celebrate Black History Month. In addition, the organization will highlight Coach Clifford's Social Justice Game Changers, honored at each home game throughout February, produce special in-game features on local Black-owned businesses, promote an online auction featuring Magic players' MLK warm up shirts from earlier this season, support community events including the City of Orlando's Black History Month Workshop and support of Valencia College’s Black History Month activities.

“The Orlando Magic remains deeply committed to diversity, equality, equity and inclusion,” Magic CEO Alex Martins explained. “To work collectively to promote peaceful and necessary social change. We do that by joining our players, our coaches, our staff, along with our other teams in the NBA in these ongoing efforts.”

The month will culminate with an in-game celebration when the Magic host the Utah Jazz on Feb. 27. During the game, the Magic will recognize and honor the many accomplishments and contributions of African Americans in the Central Florida community. Orlando will host local African American community leaders with the night featuring various organizations, including the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, Black Business Initiative Fund, Black-owned business honorees, Valencia College Poetry Slam winners. The night will also feature the Social Justice Game Changer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

In addition, throughout the month at every home game, the team will be wearing special shooting shirts designed by the NBA that read, "Built by Black History.” The script on the shirt also features significant milestones in the NBA related to Black History.

As part of the Black History Month celebration in February and beyond, the Magic join the NBA and its teams to support the ongoing pursuit of racial justice by taking leaguewide action that centers on voices, experiences and perspectives of Black players, coaches, employees and fans. As all teams leaguewide honor the legacy and contributions of Black leaders from history, each joins together to take collective actions now to demonstrate a shared commitment to building a more just, equal and inclusive future.

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