Michael Sam to tell his story at Clemson

Former St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to play in the NFL, will cap Clemson University’s Black History Month when he gives the keynote address at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27, in the Class of 1944 Visitors Center Auditorium. Sam was a University of Missouri football star primed for an early-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but his talents on the field were nearly sidelined when he came out as gay during an ESPN interview. While his revelation sent shockwaves through the sports world and he became a late-round pick by the Rams, Sam emerged as a powerful and prominent icon for inclusion. Among his many career accolades, Sam was awarded ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs. Sam’s speech will be the closing event for Black History Month. This year’s theme, inspired by the recent Netflix docuseries “When They See Us,” is “Now They See US: A New Era.” “This month is educational, but also serves as a call to action,” said Jerad Green, associate director of multicultural programs in the Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center. “We not only want to acknowledge the painful history and struggles of black people, but also recognize their successes and contributions.” Green noted Feb. 1 marks the 60th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins, which ultimately started a wave of desegregation across the South and reignited the civil rights movement. Founded as Negro History and Literature Week in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month began as a way to highlight the progress of African-Americans following the Civil War and reconstruction. Today, the month is a catalyst to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and struggles of African-Americans and members of the African Diaspora.