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During the lead up to last weekend’s big game, one of the narratives involved dueling Black QB’s facing off against each other for the first time in Super Bowl history. However, in 1939, Kenny Washington entered the National Football League (NFL) as the very first Black man to tie his legendary laces.
After the Second World War ended, the NFL was compelled to abandon its discriminatory policies: the LA Rams, the 1945 champions newly relocated from Cleveland, were required to sign African American players or lose their lease on the LA Memorial Coliseum.
The Los Angeles Rams are celebrating Black History Month with the debut of the docustyle short film Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington, produced alongside creative marketing agency The BLK Originals and award-winning video production company Loyd Visuals.
The inspiring and enlightening short film tells the story of Washington, who on March 21, 1946, ended a 12-year ban on Black players in the league as the first Black player to sign an NFL contract in the postwar era.
The BLK Originals, a Black-owned creative agency that specializes in genuine storytelling through research, ideation and design, was founded by Sam Hoggs and Jasmine Alston.
The Rams and BLK Originals worked with Black-owned production company Loyd Visuals’ CEO and Executive Producer, Khaleel Loyd, Head of Production, Maleek Loyd, and Brand Marketing Manager, Najm Loyd, to creatively develop the docustyle short film memorializing Kenny Washington’s legacy.
On Wednesday, February 15, the Rams hosted a film premiere in Inglewood’s historic downtown at The Miracle Theater.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Khaleel Loyd, who attended the event, to discuss his purpose-driven roots and how this untold story came to be.
“The Rams are a pretty progressive team, breaking the color barrier, they’ve always had that history of being more progressive than other teams. It’s a reflection of the city itself and the west coast period. In Oakland, the Black Panthers reflected that revolutionary spirit, too.”
Specializing in documentaries, commercials, and corporate videos, Loyd’s agency is trusted by global brands while active in local communities.
With an objective to amplify minority voices and contribute to diverse representation within media production, Loyd Visuals is led by three brothers who are committed to creating new narratives and industry opportunities.
As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Incorporated, Loyd credits the cultural edification of his family, creative team, and the surrounding community as continuous motivation to illuminate legendary Black figures.
“We’re naturally the most creative people. A lot of us come from a place where we lacked resources. But if you look at any third world country, it looks no different than the ‘inner city’ here, but growing up without anything also creates innovation. We make something out of nothing — and it’s usually brilliant,” says Loyd.
Established in 2016 in Charlotte, NC, Loyd says the investment he and his family have made into their business is an undying testament to their collective entrepreneurial calling.
“Its important for us to lean into entrepreneurship as a means of liberation.”Khaleel Loyd
As the executive producer behind Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington, Loyd reflected on his life’s mission to illuminate untold Black narratives, “I want to tell stories of triumph. Those are the images that need to be portrayed.”
The film features Inglewood-native and rapper D Smoke, mixed with documentary footage and interviews from Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and Rams Legends – Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Isaac Bruce, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, and Rams all-time leading rusher and three-time Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson.
In addition, Kenny Washington’s daughter, Karin Washington-Cohen, grandson, Kraig Washington, and granddaughter, Kysa Washington, help tell his story.
In addition, Rams front office staff, North East Lincoln Rams, Watts Rams and members of Washington’s family made cameo appearances in the film.
Kenny Washington was the man on the yard
“The Kingfish” was an athletic phenomenon. The UCLA Bruins left halfback set a college record of 3,206 yards for total offense over his career, won the Douglas Fairbanks trophy for the best college player in the U.S. and was named to an American college all-star team in August 1940.
A standout baseball player as well, Washington was the first All-American in school history and played alongside fellow barrier-breaker Jackie Robinson, the first African American in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era.
Washington still holds a place in the Rams heart and record books
In January 2022, the Rams created the Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship provides up to four years of financial support and advisement from Fulfillment Fund (FF), a partner of the Los Angeles Rams, for 13 students from low-resourced communities who are among the first in their families to pursue post-secondary education.
Washington played three seasons with The Rams and still holds the team record for longest run from scrimmage with his 92-yard rushing touchdown.
Washington also served as a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer for several years.
To further their dedication to preserving Kenny Washington’s legacy, the Rams adopted the North East Lincoln Rams (formerly known as the North East Lincoln Tigers), a youth football program coached by Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers and serving youth in the Ramona Gardens public housing development in Boyle Heights.
The North East Lincoln Rams play their home games at Kenny Washington Stadium at Abraham Lincoln High School, the alma mater of Kenny Washington.
After his football career, Washington appeared in several films, including The Jackie Robinson Story before he passed in 1971.
Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington is live now on the Rams’ digital channels including therams.com/kingfish, Facebook and YouTube.