Maia Chaka made NFL history on Sunday, September 12 by becoming the first Black woman to officiate a game when the New York Jets took on the Carolina Panthers.

A health and physical education teacher at Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, Va., Chaka is the third on-field female official in the NFL, which is a groundbreaking achievement when considering the NFL is over 100 years old. She spent time as a referee in the NCAA’s Pac-12 Conference and Conference USA, as well as in the short-lived Alliance of American Football in 2019.

In 2014, Chaka was selected to participate in the NFL’s officiating development program and successfully completed the program, despite facing challenges of helping family displaced by a weather emergency and adapting to life during the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“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 Senior NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent, when Chaka was added to the league’s roster of game officials during Women’s History Month in March of this year.

“When I step on the field for the first time as an NFL official, it’s going to be a proud moment…for myself…for my family…for my community, and for my students and coworkers…It’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America,” said Chaka via an official NFL post. https://www.instagram.com/p/CTuZmmOLDMk/?utm_medium=copy_link

Chaka is the third on-field female official in the NFL after Sarah Thomas, who was the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl, and Shannon Eastin.

Why We Need to Know:
Seeing a woman become the absolute first in her respective field, especially those created or dominated by White men, is a rare celebration. However, it’s even more rare to see a Black woman become the absolute first, for example, Vice President Kamala Harris. This is bigger than monumental because it completely changes history and paves the way for Black women, and they deserve a holiday or a parade, at the least.