Jun 03, 2020
The June 2 special educated audiences about the impacts of systemic racism and encouraged action. Says Chief Social Impact and Communications Officer Jeanine Liburd, “Our role at BET is to empower the Black community by creating opportunities, inspiring action, and owning our narrative.”
BET’s mission is to entertain, engage, and empower. On Tuesday night, the word “empower” was especially prominent as the network hosted Justice Now: A BET News Special.
The special is part of a series of programming created to support change by addressing systemic racism and violence against Black people. Justice Now, which aired on BET Tuesday at 8 p.m., offered ways to get involved, take action, and advocate for change. As BET Chief Social Impact and Communications Officer Jeanine Liburd, puts it: “We’re not waiting anymore.”
“The news right now is the looting, but let’s look beyond that. Let’s dig much deeper, the surface story isn’t even half the story. Our role has always been to change the narrative, to expose the narrative, and celebrate our community. It’s our responsibility to shine a light on the facts, our truths and tell that story,” Liburd says. “We’re here to provide a space for meaningful dialogue that identifies strategies leading to real, sustained change.”
Justice Now, hosted by BET News host and Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, featured a town hall-style dialogue with George Floyd’s family, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Senator Cory Booker, singer and actor John Legend, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, and activist Tamika Mallory.
"Wherever you are, make change. If everybody does that, imagine what a difference we’ll make."
BET Chief Social Impact and Communications Officer
The special showed how the issues of today are impacted by a long history of systemic racism, and how Black Americans can survive and live in a society that’s been built on it. The guests also outlined specific actions that people can take on the ground, including partnering with organizations like the NAACP, which has been working to fight race-based discrimination since 1909.
While understanding how systemic racism impacts the issues the U.S. faces today, Liburd adds that being educated on history alone isn’t enough. It’s important to share your knowledge with others.
“Inform others. Don’t take your education and keep it to yourself. Figure out a way to work with your community,” Liburd says. “Work your corner. Wherever you are, make change where you are. If everybody does that, imagine what a difference we’ll make.”
“Engagement at Every Single Level”
The primary elections happening across the country throughout June was also a topic of conversation during Tuesday’s special, as voting is another way to take action. The rapper TI, who appeared on Justice Now, is also partnering with BET on a voting initiative called #ReclaimYourVote, which encourages people to vote until November.
“It’s not just about a presidential election, but engagement at every single level,” says Liburd. “You control who your attorney general is, you can know who your sheriff is, and you can immediately impact what’s happening in your community.” She says voters should consider what issues matter most, rather than whether to like or dislike a candidate.
BET is also pushing for the 2020 presidential candidates to address the issues facing Black Americans via a presidential forum later this month. Both President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden were invited to be interviewed on the network—neither has responded yet—on the historically significant date of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery. BET went public with the possible forum before receiving an answer in hopes of leveraging some accountability.
“We need to have these conversations and put it out there, everyone has to be held accountable,” Liburd explains. “The candidates need to respond with concrete plans to move the country forward and we can’t wait. It’s as simple as that.”
On June 11, BET announced the "Content For Change" initiative, a $25M campaign, which will focus on racial justice, economic empowerment, education, health, and civic participation.
BET also encourages those who are able to donate to organizations that are pushing for justice and action, including the organizations as follows:
LDF (The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund)
National Black Justice Coalition
To learn more about police violence and systemic racism, visit: