After a two-year hiatus, CultureCon is back in person this year and brought Nike Yardrunners (3.0) with them. 

CultureCon is the “fastest-growing conference for creatives and changemakers of color who plan to elevate their social network and make a real mark on culture.”  This year the conference spanned a three-city tour — Atlanta (May 2-7), Los Angeles (June 16-18), and New York (Oct. 3-8). 

During the New York leg of the tour, Nike Yardrunners made their Culture Con debut with a panel on the Culture Stage discussing their mission and commitment to honoring the rich history and heritage of Historically Black Colleges & Universities. 

Panelists included: Spelman College alumna, and founder/Executive Director of Justice for Black Girls, Brianna Baker; Morehouse College alum, host of The RapCaviar Podcast, and 2022 Yardrunners Class honorary, Brandon ‘Jinx’ Jenkins; the current Brand Marketing Director at Nike, Deborah Williams; and finally the co-founder of YardRunners and Howard alum, Arinze Emeagwali. The panel was hosted by North Carolina A&T alumnus and TV personality, Terrance J. 

Emeagwali says having the opportunity to “put on for HBCUs” and speak on YardRunners’ efforts was very important to him.

“We really wanted to talk about why we started the importance of it, the type of people that worked on it, and how intentional and authentic we are in making sure that we’re taking care of our own” Emeagwali said. 

On Thursday, Oct. 6., Nike announced the third iteration of its Yardrunners collection, a project started by Emeagwali and fellow Howard alum Richard Palmer in 2020 to celebrate the history and culture of HBCUs and the contributions of its alumni.

Nice Kicks reports that through the Yardrunners 3.0, Nike is working with the HBCU community to tell authentic stories, co-create culturally relevant products, deliver scholarships, activate on campuses throughout homecoming, and establish networking opportunities through Nike’s university recruiting team. This year’s class is focused on HBCU alumni who are forging a legacy that will inspire future generations.

Emeagwali says being able to honor these HBCU alumni Yardrunners at CultureCon served as a reminder that the work they’re doing is important, and that “there’s still an appetite for telling stories about HBCU trailblazers doing dope things in their own lanes.” 

He acknowledges Nike creatives Richard Palmer, Deborah Williams, Tarrick Kabore, Tristan Harvin, Brittany Martin, Lonzetta Simpkins, Karim Alammuri, and Malachi Garcia as well as League Twenty Two founder, Ashley Henderson for their contributions to the success of Yardrunners. 

When it comes to being a yard runner, Emeagwali says anyone can be one, “being a yard runner is about doing the work when nobody is watching” he said. “Taking what we learned about running the yard on campus to running the globe in our perspective paths.”