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Paul Quinn College’s new basketball court provides an artistic history lesson

When it comes to top basketball court designs, Paul Quinn College might be going for the crown.

Michael Sorrell, the school’s president, certainly thinks so.

“Our court is absolutely the best basketball court in America. We invite anyone who feels differently to play us in a home-and-home series for bragging rights,” Sorrell said.

Paul Quinn, a historically Black college in Dallas, unveiled its new design on Tuesday. It features a black, silver and purple color scheme — with the school’s purple-and-yellow tiger logo present on the court also.

The words “We” and “Me” along both free throw lines are a nod to the school’s motto: We over me.

The midcourt’s beautiful imagery provides a very poignant history lesson.

The black-and-white image of the Dallas skyline is a real picture of the city taken from around 1919-1920. Sorrell explained why the school chose this picture — citing how it was the Jim Crow era when the photo was taken, and Black people couldn’t freely walk through downtown Dallas.

Sorrell said he wants to use the picture on the court to spark conversations and educate people about race relations and the history of racism not only in Texas but in America.

“This rebirth of public racism is an issue,” Sorrell said. “We needed it (the court) to convey several different messages. This isn’t just about Paul Quinn; everything we do is a bigger statement … the arena is going to be a history lesson. An educational moment.”

The historical education won’t stop there. Sorrell said more imagery relating to Black history will eventually be featured throughout the center’s hallways.

Sorrell worked closely with designer Ryan Parker of FreeThreeKey on the new court design. Parker previously made graphics for the school, and his work impressed Sorrell enough that he asked Parker to take on this task. They went through several potential designs until they landed on this concept. But when it was brought to fruition, Sorrell knew it was the one.

“The lightbulb went off … this was hot … this is everything,” Sorrell said.

Paul Quinn men’s basketball coach Brandon Espinosa and women’s basketball coach Erica Anderson echoed that sentiment.

“We were all blown away when we saw the court for the first time. It was a really special moment for our team,” Espinosa said.

“I absolutely love the court! This design and concept are on a whole other level,” Anderson said.

Paul Quinn’s hoops teams are in the Red River Conference — with both the men’s and women’s teams starting their regular seasons in November.

Sorrell said he hopes the new court will help the college’s “ascension” into becoming an even more impactful part of its community — as well as attracting some of the best talent in the nation to play for it.

“Since the court unveiling, I’ve had hundreds of emails, texts and DMs inquiring about our program. It is a very special time to be at Paul Quinn College,” Espinosa said.

The new design has become a talking point for students, athletes and faculty. It’s made them inquire about not only the picture but the historical significance behind it.

“Every day since the unveiling, people are asking about PQC now … I think the design gets student-athletes excited, but I think the history pushes them to put themselves in a situation to want to be a part of change simply because of curiosity,” Anderson said.


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