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Roller skating revival is a reminder of Black history's rich influence

Black Americans turned to skating as an outlet during the Civil Rights movement

DALLAS — A lot has been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also responsible for a revival.

As people quarantined and searched for ways to be entertained, many returned to roller skating.

Viral roller skating videos started popping up on social media in 2020 and skating stores could hardly keep up with demand.

“It’s just been constantly, constantly, people in and out all the time,” said Mo Sanders, owner of Good Foot Skates in Dallas.

Sanders opened his store in late 2020 after working for other people in the industry much of his career.

At 50, Sanders, or Quadzilla as he’s called on the rink, is one of the most well-known roller skaters in recent history. He’s competed and won international roller derby championships, been a coach and even been a roller skating consultant for Hollywood movies.

He opened Good Foot Skates to share his passion with others. He not only sells skates, but works on them, too.

Inside his store the walls are lined with old black and white photos of folks roller skating. Many of the pictures show Black skaters because Sanders says a large part of skating history is Black history.

Despite segregation and often only being allowed to skate one night a week, the rink was a place many Black Americans felt freedom to express themselves.

During civil rights, many minorities fought discriminatory policies that tried to keep them out of skating rinks.

Largely because of those efforts, roller skating remained a part of mainstream American culture and why it is able to have the resurgence it is today.

Growing up, owning a business wasn’t something Sanders aspired to do because he didn’t know it was possible. Fifty years ago there weren’t many Black business owner to be found.

But Sanders says their fight to open doors allowed him to open his own door.

“The people that laid the groundwork for me to do this,” he said. “I feel like in a sense I’m laying the groundwork for the next generation to do the same thing.”

He’s already seeing the results. He recently attended career day at a predominantly black school and says many kids lit up when they saw him and realized they could own a business, too.

That’s why, during Black History Month, we honor those who helped move us forward and those who today, are moving us further.

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