The Detroit Red Wings believe Hockey is for Everyone. On the ice, in the locker room and in our community, hockey welcomes all. Throughout the year, the Red Wings celebrate and elevate ongoing work to support diversity, equity and inclusion for children in Michigan.
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH
We recognize and celebrate women in our community making a positive impact on the lives of young Detroiters. In partnership with Comerica Bank, the Game Changers series honors one community member per week throughout the month of March who is making a profound difference in the areas of youth education, youth wellness or hockey participation. Each honoree receives a $1,000 grant dedicated to the charity of their choice from the Red Wings.
Amy Good - CEO, Alternatives for Girls
Pamela Good - Co-Founder and CEO, Beyond Basics
Manon Rhéaume - The First Woman of Hockey™ & Little Caesars AAA Girls Program Coordinator
Courtney Ebonique Smith - CEO and Founder, Detroit Phoenix Center
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
We recognize and celebrate Black community members making a positive impact on the lives of young Detroiters. In partnership with Comerica Bank, the Game Changers series honors one community member per week throughout the month of February who is making a profound difference in the areas of youth education, youth wellness or hockey participation. Each honoree receives a $1,000 grant dedicated to the charity of their choice from the Red Wings.
Khali Sweeney Founder and CEO, Downtown Boxing Gym
Coach Khali Sweeney is the founder and CEO of the Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG Detroit), a nonprofit organization he started in 2007 to empower Detroit students and set them on a path to success. The gym trains kids for life, providing tutoring, mentorship, enrichment programs, college and career readiness, meals, transportation and more, Monday-Friday, all year round. Currently, 150+ boys and girls, ages 8-18, from 30 different zip codes and 57 schools across Detroit and nearby suburbs, attend the free, academic and athletic program, but there's also a large waiting list of 1,300+ students to get in.
During COVID-19 with resources and opportunities extremely limited for Detroit students, DBG expanded from an after-school program to a full-day program to provide computers and internet access and give the children a safe place to attend online classes throughout the day. This also helps DBG's working parents, many of whom are essential, front-line workers. The gym is now open for in person programming from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Throughout the pandemic, DBG staff members have also delivered emergency food and supplies to families and other nonprofits using DBG's vans. The DBG team is working around the clock to battle learning loss while also addressing food insecurity, the digital divide, and the emotional wellbeing of its students.
Khali founded the Downtown Boxing Gym to provide a launching pad for students to achieve their dreams. The gym is proud to have a 100% high school graduation rate since its inception. Among his many honors, Khali was a CNN Hero Top 10 finalist, named 'Mentor of the Year' by Michigan's governor and received the Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Award from Wayne State University. His inspiring story has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Rachael Ray and many other local and national media outlets. Learn more at: dbgdetroit.org.
Kenyatta Stephens Chief Executive Officer of Black Family Development, Inc.
Kenyatta Stephens serves as Chief Executive Officer of Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI). She has been honored to work at Black Family Development, Inc. since July of 1997. Consumer and stakeholder satisfaction are a main priority for her as families, and the community, entrust BFDI to partner with them toward achieving their goals for hope and healing. What Kenyatta enjoys most about her position is seeing youth, family, and neighborhood transformation as they achieve set goals. As a woman of faith, she believes nothing is impossible.
As an organization, Black Family Development Incorporated's mission is to build partnerships that strengthen and enhance youth, families and communities. Their services touch families in Detroit, throughout Wayne County, including the Grosse Pointes, and Washtenaw County. The primary focus of all 20 + agency programs is to integrate science-based practice and compassion to tackle environmental, social, and behavioral health barriers that try to stand in the way of youth education and youth wellness. Kenyatta, and the hard-working experts that serve at BFDI, firmly believe that by partnering with youth and families, Detroit has no limit to the greatness it will achieve.
Shawn Wilson President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan
Shawn Wilson has served as the President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan since November of 2018, becoming the first African-American to lead the 95-year-old organization. A visionary leader, Wilson has led efforts to "reimagine", the BGCSM mission by empowering more than 15,000 youth annually to become career, start up and homeowner ready by 18. Prior to joining the Boys & Girls Clubs, Wilson spent nearly five years leading a number of high-profile social impact projects with the Ford Motor Company Fund. This included heading the Ford Resources and Engagement Centers - a $15M place-based strategy serving 30,000 youth, families and neighborhood entrepreneurs annually. Additionally, Wilson served as community lead for Ford Motor Company's $740M Corktown Campus transformation project. Wilson currently serves on the Detroit Public Schools Foundation Board of Directors which supports 50,000 students annually and in 2020 was Elected to the Plymouth Canton Community School Board which serves 16,000 students annually.
Portia Roberson is the Chief Executive Officer of Focus: HOPE, a Detroit-based, non-profit organization whose goal is to overcome racism and poverty by providing education and training for underrepresented minorities and other members of the community.
She joined the Focus: HOPE team as Chief Executive Officer in 2018, bringing strategic and inclusive leadership with a focus on moving the organization forward.
Prior to her work with Focus: HOPE, Portia acted as Group Executive of the City of Detroit's Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department, working to ensure that all major economic development projects adhered to hiring Detroit-headquartered or Detroit-based businesses, thus allowing Detroit workers opportunities for employment. During her tenure with the City of Detroit, Portia led the charge on how Michigan and Detroit-based businesses can work together to enhance local employment. Previously, she served as Corporation Counsel, Law Department at the White House Domestic Policy Council for Strong Cities, Strong Communities, as well as Director, Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison under Attorney General Eric Holder.
Portia is a graduate of Cass Technical High School. She majored in English at the University of Michigan, and holds a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School.
She has extensive volunteer experience throughout Metro Detroit, serving as a Board Member for Michigan Political History Society, Habitat for Humanity, ACLU, and Delta Manor. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Wolverine Bar Association.
Black Red Wings Players
The Red Wings are proud to join the NHL and NHLPA in celebrating the contributions of Black hockey players as we honor the past, celebrate the present, and inspire the future.
Val James Drafted: 1977
Born on February 14, 1957 in Ocala, Florida, Valmore James donned his first pair of skates at the age of 12 at New York's Long Island Arena. Thanks to his father's role as the arena's operations manager, James soon learned to skate, immersed himself in the professional hockey being played there, and joined an organized youth hockey league.
Less than a decade later, the Detroit Red Wings drafted James during the 16th round, 184th overall, of the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft. The second-to-last pick that year, James later wrote "Better late than never." James joined Red Wings training camp that summer but was soon cut. After a few seasons in the Eastern Hockey League and American Hockey League, James signed with the Buffalo Sabres for the 1981-82 season. On November 1, 1981, James skated in his first NHL game, becoming the league's first American-born Black player.
"I would say that it showed many people that you didn't have to worry about who or what you were, that you could actually go out and pursue a sport…Our race really didn't have a foothold in the game when I was playing…at least now we have more individuals getting those chances to play."
- Val James
Brian Johnson | #24 1983-1984 | Right Wing
Brian Johnson was born April 1, 1960 in Montreal, Quebec. Johnson spent four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as a right winger. He was considered a prototypical enforcer with a reputation for consistent goals as well as penalties, frequently challenging opposing teams. After earning six goals and 250 penalty minutes in 67 games for the Adirondack Red Wings in 1982-83, Johnson was selected to the QMJHL Second All-Star Team. He soon signed with the Detroit Red Wings for the 1983-84 season, debuting alongside Steve Yzerman.
At 23 years old, Johnson was the first Black player to represent the Red Wings and the eighth in the NHL. In total, Johnson played three games for Detroit. Without tallying any points and accumulating five penalty minutes, Johnson was returned to Detroit's minor league Adirondack Red Wings prior to the 1984-85 season. He would play briefly for the IHL's Indianapolis Checkers and ACHL's Carolina Thunderbirds before retiring in 1986.
"As long as they call me names, it means I'm doing something right…It's 1983. Racial problems are going to be around in the year 2000. I try to better myself. If a person uses racial slurs, he's a small person. He has no class. I try to overcome that. If it's a player, I don't get mad, I get even. Even if it takes me all year."
- Brian Johnson
Tony McKegney | #7 1989-1990 | Left Wing
Born on February 15, 1958, Anthony Syiid McKegney was considered the first Black star of the NHL. Raised in Sarnia, Ontario, he showed powerful strategy ad talent on the ice. In the mid-70s, McKegney signed a contact with the World Hockey Association's Birmingham Bulls, which was illegally reneged due to racist temperaments. Despite this setback, McKegney was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 1978, officially becoming the 4th Black player in NHL history.
Acquired by the Detroit Red Wings from the St. Louis Blues in 1989, McKegney played 14 games as a left wing before being traded to the Quebec Nordiques. McKegney played 912 career NHL games with seven teams, tallying 320 goals, 319 assists, and 639 points. McKegney became the first Black player to score 40 goals in a season, 20 or more goals in eight seasons, and held the record for the most goals scored by a Black player in NHL history for 16 years. Hall of Famers Jarome Iginla said, "Tony McKegney showed me it was possible for someone like me to play in the NHL…He set the example. He was a role model."
"I never thought so much about my being Black until I played professional hockey. Someday I will be known as a hockey player."
- Tony McKegney
Nate Robinson | #51 2003-2004 | Left Wing
Born on December 31, 1981 in Scarborough, Ontario, Nate Robinson has played for various minor and professional leagues in the United States and Europe since the early 2000s. He experienced his personal best at the start of his career as a junior hockey player for the Belleville Bulls in Ontario, winning the scoring title in the 2001-02 season.
Though passed over in the NHL Entry Draft, Robinson was signed as a free agent and debuted for the Detroit Red Wings in 2003, making him the third Black player to represent the team. He played five games for the Red Wings at left wing before returning to the minor leagues. Later, he would sign with the Boston Bruins, playing two games in the 2005-06 season. Robinson played seven games total in the NHL before relocating to Europe where he went on to play for leagues in Germany, Finland, Austria, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Belarus, and Slovakia.
Trevor Daley | #83 2017-2020 | Defenseman
Born on October 9, 1983 in Toronto, Ontario, Trevor Daley has always had a passion for hockey. Known for his consistency, Daley was drafted 43rd overall by the Dallas Stars in 2002 at age 18. He played 11 consecutive seasons with Dallas before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015-16 season.
Traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins after 29 games, Daley became an integral member of the team, achieving consecutive Stanley Cup wins in 2016 and 2017. In its 114 years of history, Daley is one of only nine Black players to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Signed as a free agent in July 2017, Daley played three seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, celebrating his 1,000th NHL game on December 23, 2018 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Retiring as a player in 2020, Daley joined the front office staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins as a hockey operations adviser.
"The way I look at it, I have young kids who have no idea what the difference is. And I'm like, 'Why does it matter if they're black or white or orange or purple?'"
- Trevor Daley
Madison Bowey | #74 2018-2020 | Defenseman
Born on April 22, 1995 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Madison Bowey joined the Western Hockey League at the age of 15. During the 2012-13 season, he won gold medals with Team Canada at both the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2013 IIHF World U18 Championship, leading to Bowey being identified as a top draft prospect.
Drafted in the second round, 53rd overall, of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals, Bowey made his NHL debut on October 14, 2017 against the Philadelphia Flyers. He played 51 regular season games in 2017-18, leading up to the playoffs that would culminate in a Capitals Stanley Cup championship, making Bowey the ninth Black player to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Traded to the Detroit Red Wings on February 22, 2019, Bowey played two seasons with the team.
"Growing up you don't see too many Black players playing. There's starting to be a little more now. I think Jarome Iginla's obviously one of the role models and leaders for that group…He was kinda my hero growing up."
- Madison Bowey
Givani Smith | #48 2019-Present | Right Wing
Born on February 27, 1998 in Ontario, Canada, Givani Smith has made a name for himself as an NHL player. At 6'2" and with a strong build, Smith provides a robust physical presence on the ice that can be intimidating to opponents. Drafted in the second round, 46th overall, by the Detroit Red Wings during the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Smith regularly played for the Grand Rapids Griffins as a right wing before being recalled by the Red Wings on October 25, 2019. Smith made his NHL debut and soon achieved his first NHL point and goal, playing 21 games with the team that season. Smith is currently a member of the team's Taxi Squad, providing back-up support on ice amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You don't have to be a certain skin color or certain person to play the game of hockey. It's a game, and if you love it, it'll love you back."
- Givani Smith
LEARN, PLAY, SCORE
Established during the 2019-20 season as part of an initial $1 million commitment from the Red Wings, Detroit Red Wings Foundation, and NHL/NHLPA Industry Growth Fund, the Learn, Play, Score platform is breaking down systemic barriers by introducing equitable access to hockey in various forms for thousands of children across the city of Detroit.
In partnership with respected local organizations and revered Detroiters - the late Marlowe Stoudamire and current Learn, Play, Score Ambassador Jason McCrimmon - children of all genders, ages and abilities are now experiencing the social, emotional and educational benefits of hockey - many of them for the first time.
The organizations listed may or may not be partners of the Detroit Red Wings. This is for informational purposes only.