As Black women continue to soar in various fields, representation in sports is steadily on the rise. From Serena Williams to Simone Biles, Black women are breaking barriers and setting a new standard. During this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, ESSENCE held the inaugural Black Women In Sports Brunch in Inglewood. Presented by Coca-Cola® and hosted by Gia Peppers, the event honored sports journalists Cari Champion and Jemele Hill with additional remarks from ESSENCE CEO Caroline Wanga and Chairman of ESSENCE Ventures, Richelieu Dennis.

Before teasing with a backstory about how she and Hill became friends, Champion told attendees, “The very first image of a Black woman in a position of power was this lady named Oprah Winfrey.” Through Oprah’s visibility, Champion first saw herself on TV, and it was later with support from Jemele Hill that she found deeper purpose. “She stood in the gap. She always had my back. They would try to pit us against one another,” Champion said. Her foundation, Brown Girls Dream, is one of her many passions because she returns the favor by standing in the gap for other girls and women.

The Off the Fields Players’ Wives Foundation were honored at ESSENCE’s inaugural Black Women in Sports brunch on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, CA | Photo credit: Jorge Meza

“To receive this honor from ESSENCE, in particular, is very special,” Jemele Hill began before she shared a story about her humble beginnings as a tomboy in Detroit. It was journalism that lit Hill’s fire for storytelling and sports. “I recognized very early that sports is a unifier,” she continued. “We do a lot of things separate in this country. We don’t worship together, we eat with the same people, we don’t go outside of our communities. You can make $10 an hour or you can be a billionaire, and you both could love the Lakers.” Hill also shared that her Unbothered Network is for Black women, by Black women. “The people we want to amplify, only Black women. The people we want to partner with, only Black women. I’m trying to get you paid.” After thanking her husband, Ian Wallace, Hill thanked industry pioneers Jayne Kennedy, Robin Roberts, and Pam Oliver. 

Also honored at the event was the Off The Field Players’ Wives Association. In addition to serving as a resource center for its members, the non-profit organization holds an annual charitable fashion show every Friday before the Super Bowl.  

Champion and Hill’s forthcoming “Cari & Jemele: Speak. Easy.” is slated to launch on CNN’s streaming service, CNN+. The two hosts will dish hot takes and weigh in on the top trending culture, entertainment, sports, and political topics. For more from the event, keep scrolling below.