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NFL names Maia Chaka first Black female referee in league history

The NFL's announcement to add the first Black woman to the roster of game officials is another step toward being a force for positive change in America. The league released a statement on Friday adding Maia Chaka to the list of game officials for the 2021 season.

Chaka makes history as the first Black woman ever named to the NFL's officiating staff. "I am honored to be selected as an NFL official," Chaka said. "But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. I​t is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture."​

The 2006 Norfolk State University graduate comes into her new role after working her wya up through the ranks of officiating and participating in the NFL's Officiating Development Program. Chaka has had success with some of the most recognizable collegiate conferences in the country. That experience incluudes stints in the Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA.

"Maia's years of hard work, dedication and perseverance – including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program – have earned her a position as an NFL official," said Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations.

The decision by the NFL comes at a time when women's empowerment efforts are at the forefront of decisions to equalize opportunities in all careers and at al levels in the US.

The league made history in 2015 selecting Sarah Thomas as the first woman to referee full-time in the NFL who went on to become the first woman to officiate a playoff game in 2019.


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