Black History Today: Proofntheplay

by Marcus Harden

(Black History Today is published in collaboration with Rise Up for Students.)

“Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success.” — Rick Pitino

I’ve always been fascinated by the story of “The Man in the Arena” and thoughts of the people who stand next to him. I often picture the intimate scenes in the Dark Knight Trilogy with Alfred serving as wise counsel for Bruce Wayne, in the Christian canon what Silas was to Paul, or the role Alex Haley played while writing the Autobiography of Malcolm X. 

While every hero or heroine basks in the glory, who are the people who stand right beside them shining a light? 

Proofntheplay (not his government name, but we’re gonna stay on brand, lol) shines a bat-signal-sized spotlight on youth and Black/pop culture in Seattle. 

Proof works a wonderful magic of casting a large shadow with his effervescent energy, his incredible photographic eye, and his boisterous support of everything ranging from covering youth sports all over the city to using his platform to promote local Black businesses. He is tireless in his support of others and cultivating conversation that builds community and constantly builds up the next person, never asking for credit, never wanting to be the subject of the story but always wanting to promote the best in others. 

The power behind what he does is in the fact that most of it goes uncompensated. He utilizes his time, talent, and treasure for the greater good and not for his own promotion. He does this with a constant smile on his face. When you walk onto a field or into a gym or a local restaurant you see Proof, and he’s never met a stranger.

Image courtesy of Proofisintheplay

Proof’s humility extends to his own family. A doting and proud father, his love for his family just echoes into the community, and he serves as a model for his children and others for what selfless love looks like. Of all of the people who’ve been highlighted in BHT, he may be the first who shuns this praise, but as the Pacific Northwest’s local ESPN-meets-Food Network-meets-BET-meets-Hallmark Channel, there are few more deserving of the momentary attention and recognition.

As gracefully stated by the late Stuart Scott, “Every day I am reminded that our life’s journey is really about the people who touch us.” Proof has touched the lives of so many behind the scenes and behind the camera, so even if just for a day, he deserves to have the lens turned on him — for the light to shine his way, because Proof is beyond a shadow of a doubt, Black History today!

Learn more about Proof @Proofntheplay on Twitter/IG or on his Facebook page.


Marcus Harden is the creator of Black History Today, an annual series honoring Black History Month that pays tribute to the living legacy of Black history in our community and beyond. He is a seasoned educator, with experience as a teacher, counselor, dean, administrator, and program and policy manager. Marcus focuses his work on creating better culture and climate for students, families, and staff. He believes deeply in restorative justice practices and in mindset and resiliency work that leads to excellent and equitable educational outcomes for all students.

Featured illustration by Devin Chicras for the Emerald.

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