As stylist Courtney Mays explained of the widely celebrated piece, pulling off such a feat of fashion had long been a goal.
“From the beginning, my mission was to create a garment that incorporated all 107 schools,” Mays told GQ Sports, who also shared photos of the front and back of the jacket. “It has become increasingly more important to me to acknowledge and preserve the legacy of the collective of institutions that have educated our community.”
Noting that the charge for amplifying these institutions has been led in part by Paul and Beyoncé, Mays praised other players and public figures for joining in, adding that it’s integral to “celebrate schools that do not normally get the platform” at this level.
“The legacy of these institutions is powerful and deeply woven into the history of Black culture,” Mays said. “During a time when all the greats of the NBA come together on the world stage (especially in a state where so many HBCUs were founded), it was unquestionably the moment to showcase not 1 but ALL HBCUs.”
Back in February, Paul spoke with CBS News about his appreciation for the history behind these important institutions. While Paul himself didn’t attend an HBCU, he’s remained a public supporter and amplifier of their causes after digging into their history once he got older.
“I just want to make sure everyone understands that HBCUs are not less than, they’re very capable and important to our history, to our culture, to everything,” Paul said at the time.
Also in February, Paul and ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith dropped the Why Not Us documentary, which focuses on the lack of resources and money facing HBCU sports programs by following the North Carolina Central men’s team during the pandemic-complicated 2020/21 season.
Sunday’s All-Star Game in Atlanta, notably, generated millions of dollars for HBCUs via donations to scholarship funds.