Maia Chaka Becomes First Black Woman to Officiate an NFL Game

Maia Chaka made history on Sept. 12 as the first Black woman to officiate a National Football League (NFL) game.

“This historic moment to me is an honor and it’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America,” Chaka said in a video released by NFL ahead of the game between the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Chaka further said in the video that she hopes she can inspire and empower others “to step outside the box and to do something different.”

Chaka became the third on-field female official in NFL, which is over 100 years old. She joined Sarah Thomas, the first woman to referee the Super Bowl, and Shannon Eastin, the first female official of the NFL.

NFL first announced that it was adding Chaka to its officiating roster last March.

“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,” Troy Vincent, Sr., NFL executive vice president of football operations, said in the announcement.

“This moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture,” Chaka said last March.

Chaka joined the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014, which is designed to provide “an opportunity for college-level officials not yet working in the NFL to be exposed to some of the same experiences as NFL officials.”

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