Black History Month has arrived, and the Nashville Predators are set to celebrate in an impactful manner.
Throughout the month of February, the Preds will recognize organizations across Middle Tennessee whose work directly impacts the black community. The franchise's goal is to bring awareness to these organizations and the people impacted by their work.
Six different organizations will be recognized at upcoming Predators home games inside Bridgestone Arena with a number of different initiatives that will have impacts to last long after the final horn.
Catholic Charities of Tennessee, specifically the McGruder Family Resource Center (Feb. 9), The F.I.N.D. Design (Feb. 11), Bethlehem Centers of Nashville (Feb. 13), Salama Urban Ministries and the National Museum of African American Music (Feb. 27) and the West Nashville Dream Center (Feb. 28) will all be honored during those specific Preds games this month.
These organizations will be featured during Predators game broadcasts, during in-game segments inside Bridgestone Arena for fans in attendance, and representatives will also serve as "Virtual Puck Drop" ambassadors on @PredsNHL social media channels prior to the start of each home game. In addition, the Nashville Predators Foundation empowered by SmileDirectClub will be delivering street hockey sets to each organization for use within their programs.
The Predators will also continue to bring awareness to and create positive change with their GUIDER initiative. Established by the Preds, Bridgestone Arena and Ford Ice Centers, GUIDER, which stands for the following principles - Growth, Understanding, Inclusion, Diversity, Equality and Representation - was founded with the objective of diminishing the prevalence of social injustice.
The goal of GUIDER is to utilize the resources, relationships and reach of the Predators and its affiliated entities to bring awareness and implement change in the four areas that are at the core of their organizational existence - their staff, their fans, their sport and the Nashville community.
Also, this month, the GUIDER Newsletter will debut, a quarterly newsletter for internal staff that provides diversity, equality and inclusion resources, employee training opportunities, information about the organization's initiatives and information on a Middle Tennessee charity focused on underrepresented groups.
Plus, on Feb. 27, the Predators will wear all black warm-up jerseys outfitted with the Willie O'Ree Celebrating Equality logo patch, matching the decal on player helmets being worn through the end of the month. The warm-up jerseys will be auctioned off to fund GUIDER initiatives and programs. O'Ree, the NHL's first black player and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, visited Nashville last season as he celebrated the touring of the Black Hockey History Mobile Museum with the NHL.
The Preds will also host private showings at Bridgestone Arena of the movie "Willie," the documentary on the life and work of O'Ree. The documentary will be shown on the FangVision scoreboard to Predators staff and community groups.
Those attending games in Smashville during the month of February will be treated to the talent of black artists prior to and in between puck drops. The National Anthem will be performed by Preds Anthem Singers Keesha Rainey or Tamica Harris throughout the month, and Sam McCrary and the Mix will perform on the Ford Bandstage during intermissions.
Additionally, the NHL and NHLPA will celebrate Black History Month with an array of original content and programming exploring the contributions of NHL Players and pioneers, and the Preds will support those virtual events as well. The League's Black History Month efforts are part of Hockey Is For Everyone, a year-round NHL and NHLPA initiative celebrating diversity and inclusion in hockey, which highlights the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ individuals; women and girls; and other underrepresented groups in the game.
Celebrating the past, embracing the present and championing the future of Black History Month has never been more important, and with this month's initiatives, the Preds are continuing to prove once more that hockey truly is for everyone.