MLK Day Sneaks: A History Lesson

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Every year, Americans and like-minded people around the world celebrate the birth of human rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday of January. Everyone has their own way of honouring the legend, but Nike and Jordan Brand have made a tradition of dropping a set of special edition PEs to honour Black History Month and, of course, MLK Day. Herein, we take a look back at the past few years for a history lesson on a collection worthy of recognition.

 
 

2014: The year of royal purple
The kingly purple colourway of Nike’s new Black History Month collection symbolizes “sport loyalty,” according to its website. Included in the lineup are three new styles of LeBron James’ LeBron 11, two from Kevin Durant, one from Carmelo Anthony, as well as three pairs of women’s footwear. This year’s PEs from Jordan Brand include Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Ray Allen in a slightly more somber colorway mixing black, gold and purple. Ray Allen AKA Jesus Shuttlesworth has a re-styled XX8 SE, Paul’s shoe is his signature CP3.VII model and Griffin’s is a special edition version of his Super.Fly 2.

 
 

2013: The year of orange and grey
Last year had a bit more flair to it, with Nike dropping a colorway incorporating mad monochromatic prints with orange and brown accents. The motto for the year was “Be Bold. Be true.” speaking to the work ethic of the players donning them. Kevin Durant got a KD V with a busy, albeit clean, alternating hatch pattern that really stood out. LeBron got his Lebron X, which weighed more heavily toward black and grey, with a little printing along the outsole. Kobe’s shoe (of course) incorporated his signature on the heel.

 
 

2012: The year of colourful prints
This was a year where something remarkable happened: neither Jordan Brand nor Nike dropped a special set of PEs like in previous and future years. Instead, Nike’s BHM collection included shoes using lots of black space punctuated with patterns inspired by pioneering Brazilian, Kenyan and US teams. And at least one other sneaker company paid its respects to the legendary doctor: Supra. These Vaider Mids sport a vulcanized black and gold colorway, and were released ahead of MLK’s birthday in celebration.

 
 

2011: The year of black and gold
In this iteration, Nike, Jordan Brand and even Converse were on board to create the annual MLK Day collection. In addition to the Kobe kicks you’ll see in future years, signature shoes belonging to Michael Jordan and Julius Erving rounded out the set. The familiar styles were spun almost entirely in black, with few metallic accents on the outsoles and ankle cuffs.

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