The Utah Jazz are proud to celebrate Black History Month with a series of videos featuring individuals who are making an impact in our community.
Frances Battle is the proud principal of Nibley Park School.
“To be honest with you Utah was not a place I planned to live and 40 years later I’ still here,” Battle says. “You have your perceptions about places. But moving to Utah and going to [teach at my first school], they had students from all different cultures, all different nationalities. It was a new experience for me. I was in heaven.”
Jerry Carter is a videographer who has filmed the Utah Jazz since the days of Stockton and Malone.
“For me growing up here, I don’t know that people noticed the color of my skin so much as they knew who I was and respected me for who I was,” Carter says. “For me, I would tell black players who came here just be who you are, be yourself and you will be welcomed. Be the best example of yourself.”
Utah Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, a registered nurse and author, call Utah home.
“Growing up in Utah, I felt like I had to represent a whole community of people at times. It wasn’t always easy. It could be challenging at times finding where you fit and finding your voice,” Vanessa says. “We try to educate [our children] on those things so that when they grow up, they already feel like they have that voice.”
Taj Thompson is a third-grade student and an oratory champion. Thompson studies black history with his grandmother and has recited Dr. Martin Luther King’s words to audiences throughout Utah.
“You can make a difference,” Taj says. “You can always make a difference in the world.”
Marcus Jones came to Utah on a football scholarship in the late ’90s. Two decades later, Mr. Jones is the co-founder and the president of Miss Essie’s Southern BBQ, carrying on family tradition and sharing a 100-year-old recipe passed down through the generations.
“Nobody knows who you are,” Jones says, “until you show them who you are.”