Alfred University News

Alfred University's Art Force 5 leads second annual Women's Empowerment Draft

Thirty-two New York State college students in March will pay tribute to 32 women’s empowerment icons through a colorful football-inspired draft ceremony, called the Women’s Empowerment Draft, founded by Alfred University’s Art Force 5.


Thirty-two New York State college students in March will pay tribute to 32 women’s empowerment icons through a colorful football-inspired draft ceremony, called the Women’s Empowerment Draft, founded by Alfred University’s Art Force 5.

The effort will be shared throughout the month, with the ceremony being released on social media on International Women’s Day beginning March 8.

The program asks, “What if we celebrated women’s history with the same enthusiasm as we root for professional athletics?” Dozens of SUNY colleges will collaborate on the statewide effort, which will feature trading cards, mosaic paintings, and a draft ceremony with the students wearing football jerseys adorned with icons’ faces and names.

The students will gather safely online on Feb. 28 to film these tributes, and an edited version will be released March 8. Alfred University’s Art Force 5, a student club and class, previously partnered with the NFL Network, NAACP, and various police departments in presenting Women’s Empowerment Draft last year. Art Force 5’s mission is to use “creativity over conflict.”

In 2020, the NFL Network’s NFL360 broadcast the first annual Women’s Empowerment Draft, which was hosted by NFL anchor Lindsay Rhodes and spotlighted college students from each NFL city honoring icons from those cities. The 2021 draft still honors many historic trailblazers but has shifted some of the focus to include “Living Legends” and regional connections to New York State.

Icons being honored include Buffalo Bill’s owner Kim Pegula, University at Buffalo alumna and A+E Network Chair Abbe Raven, SUNY Oswego alumna and ESPN anchor Linda Cohn, NYS Attorney General Letitia James, and other icons chosen by various colleges. The program still features historic trailblazers such as Sojourner Truth (honored by SUNY New Paltz), Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Fulton-Montgomery Community College) and Lucille Ball (Jamestown Community College). The program has a few special tributes to recent lives lost as well as a moment to recognize frontline workers. The college students are attempting to reach out to many living legends to send them their jerseys and trading cards for autographs.

The Women’s Empowerment Draft is an educational class project and no direct permissions for use of names or images have been granted. The artistic interpretations - in the forms of jerseys and trading cards - can only be given to students for educational curriculum use. The demand for such jerseys has been high nonetheless with icons and/or their estates being gifted some of the memorabilia. Limited trading cards are available for primary and secondary educators free of charge by sending requests to artforce5@alfred.edu. Art Force 5 only ask beneficiaries share their own tributes on social media throughout Women’s History Month and tag #WEdraft . Questions about the program can also be directed to artforce5@alfred.edu