As March Madness reaches its final games, I’d strongly recommend watching Queen Vee a fantastic short about Violet Palmer, the first woman to officiate an NBA playoff game and one of the two first top-level women officials in any United States professional sport. Part of Eva Longoria’s documentary short series Versus, here’s the synopsis for Melissa Johnson’s Queen Vee (2015):
Night after night, she grabs her uniform and laces up just like the big boys of the NBA she runs with. She’s been in the league longer than most of them. Seventeen years. She’s Violet ‘Vee’ Palmer, the first female referee in the NBA. Queen Vee is a story about this intrepid pioneer with gigantic ambition who beat all odds to make it to the NBA. The film chronicles Violet’s singular journey as an African-American woman who grew up Southern Baptist in Compton and managed to reach the elite club of refs at the highest level. “I didn’t just put my little foot through the door,” she says, “I kicked the damn thing over.”
I got to see the short at Athena last month, and I think most people will enjoy it whether or not they’re a sports person (which I am not). There’s no way you can step away not having a huge amount of respect for Palmer for her dedication. We get a glimpse into her physically and mentally demanding work, how she balances a profession that requires constant travel with her wife and family, and how others in the sport see her. Give it a watch and let us know what you think!
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