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NFL Network to feature Women’s Empowerment draft organized by Alfred University’s Art Force 5
ALFRED, NY— Alfred University’s Art Force 5, a pioneering group of students founded to celebrate equality, creativity, community, history and empathy through art, is set to unveil its newest project, the Women’s Empowerment Draft, which will shine a spotlight on icons of the women’s rights movement.
The Women’s Empowerment Draft will be broadcast on Sunday and Monday, May 3 and 4, on the NFL Network. The draft will be shown at noon Sunday, May 3, on NFL360, the NFL Network’s Emmy Award-winning series, and at 7 p.m. Monday, May 4, on NFL Total Access.
The Women’s Empowerment Draft will highlight the lives of 32 historically significant and iconic women who have contributed to the women’s rights movement in the United States. The event marks this year’s 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. A portrait of each woman will adorn an NFL-style jersey, and the jerseys will be worn by 32 college students from across the country. The pre-recorded production will present each student describing the life and contributions of the woman featured on their jersey – and since the students live in communities across the country, each of their jerseys highlight a woman from their particular region.
Alfred University alumnus and NFL Creative Director, Trent Cooper ’92 produced the segments for the NFL Network, which will be posting coverage on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Art Force 5 will edit a 30-minute Women’s Empowerment Draft video, which will be released on the Art Force 5 website.
Cooper also directed Art Force 5’s tribute to Atlanta’s first African-American police force, which was featured on NFL 360.
New York City native Shirley Chisolm, the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, will appear on a jersey highlighted with the colors of the New York Jets. A portrait of Helen Keller, who spent her later years in Easton, CT, will be on a jersey sporting the colors of the New England Patriots. Rochester native Susan B. Anthony will appear on a Buffalo Bills-colored jersey. During the 2019 NFL season, as part of its community outreach, Art Force 5 members went to several NFL cities on game day and displayed the jerseys outside stadiums.
The project caught the eye of the NFL Network, which broadcast the annual three-day NFL draft from April 23-25. Lindsay Rhodes, anchor for the NFL Network’s flagship program Total Access, covered the story and made a guest appearance in the draft room, honoring Inez Milholland on behalf of the city of Los Angeles. Milholland, who fought for women’s suffrage in the early 20th century, became the movement’s martyr when she collapsed during a speech in Los Angeles and later died.
Dan Napolitano, Art Force 5 Founder and Assistant Dean of Alfred University’s School of Art and Design, says The Women’s Empowerment Draft will feature at least a dozen Alfred University students living around the country in addition to about 20 more students from U.S. colleges and universities that have joined the initiative. Those students were encouraged by their own professors to participate, after Alfred University professors reached out to contact friends and colleagues across the country.
Napolitano notes current members of Art Force 5, all of whom are students at Alfred University, researched the lives of the women featured on the jerseys in order to provide content for students who will appear and speak in the Art Force 5 video. The jerseys were designed by Alfred University alumna Jillian Mullen ’17 alongside Albany, NY-based designer Courtney Ferrara.
Alfred University student Adeye Jean Baptiste will co-host the 30-minute production (a shorter 30-second version will also be shot). “We’ve always seen both men and women wearing male athlete names on fan jerseys,” Baptiste says. “But to encourage both to wear the names of women is a creative twist worth continuing.”
Art Force 5 is a program that uses community-based art to inspire discussion on topics of equality and social justice. This program inspires creativity over conflict through non-violence workshops and impactful community-based art. Through Alfred University’s New York State College of Ceramics, the program has been granted support through SUNY, the State University of New York. Art Force 5 has received national recognition for their unique diversity training and efforts to use art to address difficult topics.