For Minnesota United midfielder Jacori Hayes, Black History Month goes beyond celebrating trailblazers and historical icons.
The scope is much larger, Hayes said, and extends to everyday people whose names rarely, if ever, draw headlines. There are millions of average Black people in America who carry centuries of history and promise.
“But also this month is about remembering the average person, the ones that were there just taking steps to improve their family,” Hayes said. “These daily acts to try to improve the lives of their family, despite all that was stacked against them.
“The ones that survived slavery and survived Jim Crow and still passed down traditions and culture that are spread wide through the African-American community and celebrated worldwide today, so I just want to take a moment and think about those people that won’t be remembered in the history books.”
Hayes is entering his fifth MLS season upon entering the league in 2017 with FC Dallas after playing at Wake Forest University. During that time, the 25-year-old has accrued two goals and four assists in 49appearances (26 starts).
But there’s far more to Hayes than his on-field exploits, with the Maryland native using Black History Month to reflect and gain perspective.
“Whenever I learn about these facts, I always have to put them into perspective because society was doing everything in their power to hold African-Americans back in this country and make them feel less than human,” Hayes said. “And to be able to have the mental and physical fortitude to withstand all that and still accomplish great feats is truly incredible.”
During the Black Lives Matter protests this past summer, Hayes was particularly vocal, penning a first-person statement on Minnesota’s website following the killing of George Floyd.
In honor of Black History Month, Minnesota United took a look at Black history in the state. Major League Soccer will also be conducting several programs throughout February to celebrate Black History Month.