BET's big inauguration plans
Nayaba Arinde | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.
Big, bold, accurate and proud is what BET's inauguration coverage will be, according to Keith Brown, SVP of news and public affairs at BET News. "One of the most amazing challenges that I've been confronted with is to make sure we document this correctly," Keith Brown told the AmNews. "This is absolutely one of the most important moments in modern times for us to be able to document. We feel very privileged."
Loyalty and satisfaction are two key components BET News is relying on to keep viewers glued to the box in the next few days of programming leading up to and including the January 20 historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. Through live coverage, news specials, extended up-to-the-hour news briefs and on-air crawls, BET News said it intends to chronicle the significance of his day for the community. From the swearing-in ceremony to the parade to the White House, "it will be a day of celebration, reflection and inspiration."
What folk will see is programming reflecting the inauguration in its "true spirit. This is not a shy celebration. This is a celebration for our community and our country," said Brown. "We will pay homage to all the people who fought and shed blood" to usher in this historic moment. Brown waxed lyrical about the "great combination" of the hosts Rene Syler, Hill Harper and Jeff Johnson. He said this, plus an understanding of the core Black audience, should bring people flocking to the channel. "It's part loyalty, part perspective that you won't see anywhere else," said Brown. "Everywhere else you'll see a trickle of Black and brown faces. We will be talking about the past and about how we connect that to the present. We celebrate that."
No need to switch between cable or network news programs; BET News is a one-stop shop. There will be talk and analysis of Obama and the effect of his campaign. Among focused human interest segments, Brown said BET News will be "tracking a multi-generational family to the inauguration. During the BET Inaugural Ball, the newsman said there will be a "'Yes we can' corner where people can go to talk about what they are going to do throughout their lives and their personal commitment for change, not just Obama.
"We have demonstrated our commitment," Brown assured. "We were there from the first primaries, from the Iowa caucus. We have been there all the way through." It is just as "critical for us to follow the first 100 days and after. With this economy, our community is going to be hurting worse. People need a voice where they can go."
BET Networks kicks off the inaugural festivities in Washington, D.C., with the second annual BET HONORS on Saturday, January 17 and concludes with BET's first-ever Inaugural Ball on Tuesday, January 20. Actress Gabrielle Union will host as The BET Honor celebrates songstress Mary J. Blige, filmmaker Tyler Perry, dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison, businessman and basketball legend Earvin "Magic" Johnson, entrepreneur B. Smith and Congressman James E. Clyburn. The second annual event will premiere on the net-work during Black History Month on Monday, February 9 at 9 p.m.
Special programming will include pre-taped messages from the prominent African-Americans, from Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte to Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby. Black New York's favorite broadcaster, Gil Noble, will present special packages focusing on what Obama's presidency means to America throughout the broadcast.
Jeff Johnson, assorted "intellectual and historical figures" and celebrity guests will color comment all the significant moments during the parade on the "Rooftop on Pennsylvania Avenue" broadcast. Special contributors will include: Professor Charles Ogletree, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Vernon Jordan, Maya Angelou, Assata Shakur, Attallah Shabazz, Harry Belafonte, Dorothy Height, Bernice King, Kathleen Cleaver and Bobby Seale.