OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — February is Black History Month, when we honor past and current African American leaders for the contributions they've made to the United States.
The Wisconsin Herd honored influential African Americans by hosting a VIP art reception at the Reeve Memorial Union on the UW-Oshkosh campus Monday night.
The Herd helped display 12 portraits of 13 current and past African American leaders.
"It's a tremendous honor just to be here and to be recognized on the wall," former Harlem Globetrotter Herb Lang said.
Lang is now an author and motivational speaker.
He is featured as one of the portraits alongside former teammate, Paul "Showtime" Gaffney.
"He was one of the guys when I came in that taught me what it was about to be a Globetrotter, to be an ambassador, to be a leader," Lang said.
Patrick Hunter, also known as "Patcasso," painted all of the portraits.
"Each painting took maybe about two or three days," Hunter said.
The portraits also include:
- Harriet Tubman
- Frederick Douglass
- Booker T. Washington
- Bessie Coleman
- Earl Lloyd
- Madam C.J. Walker
- Kenny "The Jet" Smith
- Dr. Tommie Smith
- Reggie Van Lee
- Kamala Harris
Hunter says all of these men and women are visionaries.
"This was my interest to be able to take a blank canvas and create something, but to honor people who saw a blank canvas in their lives and create something that we still cherish and recognize today," Hunter said.
During Tuesday night's game, Wisconsin Herd players will sport custom jerseys.
Each uniform will feature a painted portrait of one of the figures the Herd is honoring.
"We've never done anything like that, and it's the first of its kind in our history," Wisconsin Herd president Steve Brandes said. "And we couldn't be more thrilled to celebrate the Black History Month with this project."
The portraits will be on public display starting Tuesday and going through the end of the month.
The theme of the series is "Be the Light. Inspiration on Purpose."
"The purpose of this is to help young kids and people who are maybe struggling with really thinking about what they're essentially here for," Hunter said.
The Herd's Black History Month celebration game tips off at 6 p.m. at the Oshkosh Arena on WACY tv32.