For Michigan coach Juwan Howard, participating in the inaugural Coaches vs. Racism event against Prairie View A&M in Washington, D.C. this year was a “no-brainer.”
The soon-to-be annual event was founded to help bring an end to systemic racism in sports, highlight players from HBCUs that are traditionally overlooked by talent scouts and raise money for marginalized students for college tuition.
“I thought that it would be special for us to really go out and do what we can to help the HBCUs,” Howard said at a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “We look at some of the resources that we have that the HBCUs do not have, I saw that this would be a nice fundraiser to help in any way with any resources that they’re lacking.”
For Michigan, the opportunity to play against an HBCU is a familiar one. The Wolverines’ first round opponent in the NCAA tournament last year was Texas Southern, an HBCU in Houston, Tx.
So, while Howard is excited for the chance for his team to participate in the game, he also isn’t overlooking the opponent.
“(Texas Southern) didn’t look at a power five conference and say ‘you know what, we feared them,’ ” Howard said. “That’s the same exact thing that I expect when we play Prairie View A&M. They’re going to be well coached, well prepared, and they’re not going to just lay down because we’re in the Big Ten.”
The game’s location, Washington, D.C. — the hometown of sophomore center Hunter Dickinson and sophomore forward Terrance Williams II — is another point of focus for Howard. But it’s not just a homecoming for those two that has Howard looking forward to the trip. It’s also a chance to reflect.
During their time in Washington, D.C. Howard made it a point to say that he was going to take his team to see the National Museum of African American History and reflect. He stressed that it was important to not only see some of the country’s history but also think about the impact that those before them are having on “not just the African American community but also people and life in general.”
For Howard, this is bigger than just a game on Nov. 13. It’s an opportunity for his team to come together and help bring awareness for a worthy cause. Something that makes him appreciate why he is where is and sports as a whole.
“One of the things that I find special about sports, especially our team, is that we have guys that come from different backgrounds,” Howard said. “We’re speaking of religious backgrounds, as well as ethnic backgrounds. And what I find with sports is that when you bring all those together, no one even thinks about any of that. They think about how we can all just become together and form that brotherhood. So when this opportunity was brought to me, to be a part of it, I thought it was a no brainer.”