CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – There’s a big push to celebrate historically black colleges nationwide.

A Charlotte native is a part of a campaign with Nike that highlights HBCUs like North Carolina A&T.

Nike released four styles of sneakers to highlight HBCUs through its YardRunners 2.0 campaign, created to celebrate the rich heritage, history, and contributions of HBCUs and their alums on the global culture.

N.C. A&T multimedia journalism student, Arial Robinson, was chosen as one of the creative directors for this project. Robinson says the inspiration for the shoe comes from the iconic architecture on A&T’s campus.

“The grays represent the cement of the building. It’s also a metaphor for our stories being submitted in history, not being easily broken. The laces and the tongue are the big infamous yellow staircase,” Robinson said. “Then the bottom of the shoe is grass because it was a joke on our campus. A&T always keeps the grass cut low because of the pride we have on campus.”

The inside of the tongue is adorned with “From Greensboro with love,” a nod to the Carolina city. Robinson says the opportunity to showcase the rich culture and tradition of Black colleges is priceless.

“Being able to be a part of a project that challenges that and pushes it to see a new form and new light. It’s very monumental,” Robinson said. “Also, I’m a black woman, and a lot of times, like growing up, I didn’t see anybody doing these kinds of things.”

Gabe Salazar, the owner of Request Boutique, has locations in Charlotte, Greensboro, and Atlanta. Out of the hundreds of pairs of shoes available in the store, he says the “Ayantee” Dunks have the phones ringing off the hook.

“A lot of our clients either attend A&T, have attended A&T,” Salazar said. “There’s such strong roots there, we felt like how can we support the people that have supported us through the seven years, so it was a no brainer for us really.”

The resell boutique bought three pairs of shoes from customers and marked them up to $400. The company pledged to match and donate all proceeds directly to the university on its Instagram page. 

So far, they’ve donated more than two thousand dollars.

“I wanted to make sure I wrote that public so people can see it. Maybe and as far as someone else, maybe they’ll go donate; maybe if it wasn’t the same amount, maybe they could donate $50, $100, or something like that. Because at the end of the day, you know, anything goes a long way,” Salazar said.

Robinson hopes the ongoing demand for the Dunks will continue to put HBCUs all over the country in the spotlight.

“It’s like keeping the money within the community and creating opportunities,” Robinson said. “Now you have eyes looking in, like, what are they doing? What is that shoe? What’s happening? You know, so just creating a community and cycle, I think it’s amazing.”

The Yardrunners Dunks are available on the Nike SNKRS app on October 24th. 

Robinson says there will be other local opportunities to get the shoes before the release.