top of page

#CIROCSTANDS Celebrates Black Excellence Month During Super Bowl Weekend

CÎROC brings #CIROCStands to Super Bowl Weekend Celebrating Black Excellence

in Sports Media and the influential women paving the way.

It's Black excellence month, and Sean "Diddy" Combs and CÎROC (Official Vodka Sponsor of the NFL) are back for another round of #CIROCStands during one of the most significant events in sports, Super Bowl weekend! Along with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), CÎROC is honoring all the Black journalists who are making history and elevating the stories told in sports. How awesome is that?!

We're thrilled to announce that Cari Champion, MJ Acosta-Ruiz, Kelsey Nicole Nelson, and Elaine Welteroth, an award-winning journalist, NYT Bestselling author, and TV host, are coming together for a special panel discussion at NFL House! They will be recognizing these amazing women, exploring their inspirational stories, and celebrating their success in paving the way for the rest of us. It's gonna be awesome!

WHEN: Saturday, February 11 | Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm 

WHERE: NFL House [El Chorro Lodge, 5550 East Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley]


America’s #1 Most Flexible Meal Service


Editor-in-Chief, Amina sat down virtually with NABJ representative, Kelsey Nicole Nelson (@therealknelson) to know more about the organization's collaboration with #CIROCStands.

Amina: Hi, my name is Amina and I am the Editor in Chief of Black Pepper Magazine. Great to have you.

Kelsey: Hi, everyone. I'm Kelsey Nicole Nelson, a freelance sports reporter and Host Based out of Washington, DC, where I cover all things, sports, from everything from football, to basketball, to probably your favorite celebrities and doing red carpet interviews. I'm so excited and delighted to be here with black pepper magazine. Thank you so much for having me. I am so delighted to be here with you.

Amina: Out of all professions you've chosen journalism, why?

Kelsey: So, oh my gosh, that's such a powerful question. But for me, journalism was always the path for me, you know, the household I come from I remember, we used to always watch the news and watch sports together. And I'll never forget, I asked my parents, you know, like the people on the television, how many people are they talking to my parents are like 1000s, and millions. And, you know, just realizing the power that journalists have that words matter that diversity and representation matters. It knew it was always a path. For me, I think I've always been a storyteller. I've always been that person, you know, going to everybody else, sharing what's happening in the world sharing the news. And so that's always been a joy and delight for me. So to me the power of the pin, the power of words I've always been attracted to. So journalism kind of just naturally I fell into it. And obviously, I've kind of been there ever since. So, it's an amazing career and amazing path. And I really think it's what God has called me to do. On this earth. I really feel like I'm walking in my faith, every single day that I work as a sports journalist.

Amina: Where did the passion for sports come from?

Kelsey: Yeah, so the passion for sports. I'm a daddy's girl, I will admit that first and foremost. So you know my dad. He comes from HBCU roots and only I come from historically black colleges and university roots, all my aunts went to Jackson State University. My dad is a proud graduate of Grambling State University. So I grew up with this HBCU sports world, you know, grew up with Doug Williams posters on my, on my in my, you know, in my bedroom and on the wall. So, you know, just having all of that. And then just being a natural athlete, I think, you know, I was always taller than everybody else. I got into sports super early, I played soccer, basketball, you know, so many different things that I was involved in sports, I've kind of always been in my life, I think I just naturally have a competitive edge, I don't really think wanting to compete. And then of course, just growing up in the DMV area, that's DC, Maryland, and Virginia sports were always there. And I grew up in Georgetown. Boy paranoia was at an all time high, when the University of Maryland basketball was at an all time high, you know, going to Baltimore Ravens training camps, and Westminster, Maryland. It just was always a part of me. And I always just found joy there connecting with folks. So for me, it started with my dad watching those games or sitting on top of his shoulder that basketball games, you know, looking over everybody else, and then it's just kind of has still stayed with me. And he's still the person that I talk to every day about what's happening in sports.

Amina: So every road to success has its ups and downs, right? What has sports journalism taught you?

Kelsey: Oh, my gosh, no, being a black woman in sports journalism, I always said that, first and foremost, because everything I do I enter as a black woman. You know, being in sports journalism, I kind of came in this world as an underdog, you know, being underestimated from the time, you know, I came up my parents were from Mississippi, they moved to Montgomery County, Maryland. And I was so used to being the only one in so many situations, the only one that looked like me and always having to prove myself. But being in sports journalism kind of taught me that same underdog mentality is always there. But it's honestly where I learned how to bet on myself. Because I was overlooked many, many times, you know, for positions and opportunities. It taught me how to really build my own table, when a seat was not offered at a table. You know, I tell young people all the time, you know, just because a seats not offered, it doesn't mean the table is not there, that there's no room at the table. Sometimes it might mean you you know, pulling up a chair. But for me, it's even more than that. I've had to learn how to pull up a chair, put my elbows down on a table and demand that my voice be heard through sports journalism and sports media. Because that diversity, that representation is so important, and it does matter. And so I think for me, you know, just learning that a lot of times you will be under looked and underestimated, but that's not the end of the world. It just means you're gonna find another way to prove yourself because if you're in a room, you're meant to be there.

And then for me, it's meant it meant that I need to prove my worth and I'm going to make sure that I prove what I need to be here and why I'm going to stay here and I think that's what sports journalism has taught me. It taught me how to have thick skin. I get lots of nose I mean You know, even when I first started, and those are the say I keep a folder of all the news, and then you know, I look where I am now and where I want to go. And I just remember, you know, obviously, that just was not meant for me at that moment or at that time, but that's not the end of the world, there will be other, you know, opportunities, I've learned how to be an entrepreneur, you know, through this, I have my own businesses now, because of my work. You know, in journalism, I had to kind of learn that, you know, you don't learn that in many other businesses, maybe. But in journalism, you know, I had to learn it quick, especially when tax season came around. Why that was, you know, kind of so important. And then I've also learned how to brand myself, you know, which is super important, you know, and how to make sure that people know that I'm uniquely me, and standing out as myself. So you know, there's so many things I learned in journalism, I could share a million things with you. But as a black woman, I think the biggest things I've learned is just how to, you know, use myself to the best of my ability. And just to kind of brand that to other platforms in different areas, especially as a freelance journalist, because you know, I consider every day an audition, because I never know where my next opportunity is going to be coming from.




Amina: Such a powerful lesson ! You are also here to announce something special, with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and their partnership with...

Kelsey: ... with CIROC ! Surprise. Excited to give that announcement to everybody.

I am excited to join the panel on behalf of the NABJ (The National Black Association of Journalists) as a partner of this year’s #CIROCStands for Black Excellence iteration. CÎROC’s support of NABJ’s and our mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through advocacy efforts and professional development for Black journalists and media professionals worldwide is an honor.  

I look forward to joining my fellow journalists and sportscasters MJ Acosta-Ruiz, Cari Champion,  alongside host Award-winning journalist, NYT Bestselling author, TV host Elaine Welteroth for meaningful conversation as we share our stories of inspiration at NFL House. I am honored to take centerstage with these powerful women, and toast to our success as we pave the way for others to do the same.

You know, the fact that we have two black quarterbacks going head to head in the Super Bowl, for the first time ever, just 35 years after Doug Williams became the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, I think that means something special. And then again, to me, as a black woman being part of such a phenomenal event, I'm so excited to be representing NABJ on this panel. And then it's gonna be great, you know, all of us trying to push diversity, equity and inclusion, something that both organizations highly promote through their work and advocacy efforts. That is just pushing professional development for black journalists and media professionals, communicators, students, you know, all over the country. So that's gonna be great. It's gonna be at the NFL house, and I'm so excited to be able to announce this special partnership.

Amina: It sounds great. So what exactly is the mission of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)?

Kelsey: I love that question. And if folks haven't heard about NABJ, well, you're about to get the best kept, which should be not secret. It's an organization that's been around since 1975. Again, since 1975, really helping to push and promote Black Journalists all over the country. 4100 members strong right now, in counting as the largest and oldest of the nation's professional training and advocacy organizations, for journalists of color. And you know, you think about what they do, we have year round, we have career fairs. You know, we have annual conferences, virtual conferences, regional conferences, I'm really making sure that we have diverse hiring practices, and that journalists of color have access to job opportunities. So anytime that you see a journalist of color really means that they have an organization backing them supporting them. And I think that's so many, that's so important, you know, to so many of us in our everyday work lives, you know, you know, you have that support. It's something special, you know, there's nothing like working in a job and you know, just feeling like, you have no one that you can lean on. I think that's what NABJ represents for. So, you know, many people across this country, they've given hundreds of 1000s of dollars, and scholarships, fellowships and grants to members to suit a journalist, and to so many more. So basically, NABJ is a great group to just support everybody who kind of touches Journalism and Media Communications, Academia, this is the group for them.

Amina: Awesome. How has an NABJ been able to sustain its initiative for more than 40 years?

Kelsey: NABJ, founded in 1975, is a nonprofit organization that offers innovative training, career advancement, funding opportunities, advocacy, and support for Black journalists and media professionals worldwide