The joy, resilience, and inspiration of Black history

Leanne Yenush

This month we celebrated the joy, resilience and inspiration of Black history focusing on the ways we can create a more inclusive community. We’ve learned more about the experiences of Black rowers, and we’ve celebrated their success and contribution to the sport.

In the spirit of continuing to grow and learn together, we’re sharing some of our favourite moments from the past month that we can reflect on beyond the close of February.

A Legacy Partnership

Earlier this year, we announced our long-term partnership with BLJ Community Rowing, an incredible organisation giving new opportunities to rowers in the Philadelphia area. BLJ founder Brannon Johnson joined us for an Instagram Live to share her experiences as a Black rower and her efforts towards starting the first Black owned-and-operated rowing club in America. We are looking forward to continuing to partner with Brannon and her team to make rowing a more inclusive sport.

In Their Own Words

Within the Hydrow team, we’re lucky to have Athletes who hold their own unique place in rowing history. Aquil Abdullah, Hydrow Athlete and software engineer, was the first African-American to win the Diamond Sculls and was the first African-American male to qualify for the Summer Olympic games in 2004. Both Aquil and Hydrow Athlete Michelle Sosa have been featured on the “Rowing in Colour'' Podcast, highlighting their experiences both on and off the water as POC in a historically white sport. 

"The decisions we make every single day are what push us forward. We do have power. We do have a voice."

- Michelle Sosa

Aquil was also recently interviewed by GW Sports and served as a panelist for a number of webinars, including The Other (Rowing) America this past January. This panel was presented by the Head of the Charles Regatta x Gold Cup Grant Fund, a committee that Michelle serves on that supports rowing organizations that share a commitment to building and sustaining diversity within the sport.

“The race that matters in rowing is the one thats on the water"

- Aquil Abdullah

Continuing the Celebration

Together, our Athletes and DJ J. Boogie, curated special Black History Month playlists for their Live Rows that highlighted some of their favorite Black artists. Missed out on these Live Rows? Don’t worry -- we’ve compiled the playlists together so you can enjoy these workouts long after February is over.

- Sera Moon’s Row to the BHM: Funk Disco Soul

- Mac’s Row to the BLJ Rowing Playlist, a playlist curated by Tymir Green-Ellis, Assistant Coach at BLJ Community Rowing

We have loved spending February particularly focused on the contributions of the Black community. We will continue to dedicate our energy and resources to inclusion, fairness and equality both in the sport of rowing and beyond.