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The Panthers recognized Maia Chaka, who hails from Virginia, during Sunday’s NFL game against the Jets in Charlotte. 

There were two things to celebrate yesterday in Charlotte. The Carolina Panthers triumphed over the New York Jets in their 2021-2022 season opener 19-14. But more significantly, one of the game’s officials, Maia Chaka, became the first Black woman to referee a game in the NFL. 

In a video posted by the NFL, Chaka, a high school PE teacher from Virgina, spoke about the significance of her role. “This historic moment to me is an honor,” said Chaka. “It’s a privilege that I’ve been chosen to represent women and women of color in the most popular sport in America.” 

In March, the NFL announced that Chaka would become the first Black woman ever named to its officiating staff, noting her previous experience at the collegiate level (Pac-12 and Conference USA). The 38-year old also officiated in the now-defunct XFL in 2020 and was selected for the NFL’s Officiating Development Program in 2014. 

“Maia’s years of hard work, dedication and perseverance have earned her a position as an NFL official,” said Troy Vincent, Sr., a former NFL player turned executive vice president of football operations. 

The Carolina Panthers also took time during the game to recognize the history-making referee on Twitter.