BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS, is launching a $25 million social justice initiative called Content for Change.
The nation’s oldest Black television network is leveraging its stance in the community to partner with civil rights and social justice groups to drive forward conversations about racial justice. Starting on Juneteenth (the June 19 holiday commemorating the end of legal slavery in the U.S.), the network will air original short-form programming and a slate of inspirational films including Selma, Marshall, Race and Do the Right Thing.
“For 40 years, BET has been a unifying space for Black people to be seen, heard, showcased and celebrated,” said BET president Scott Mills. “As many in America move more boldly and with a greater sense of urgency to address racial inequities, we will utilize the full breadth of our capabilities and partnerships to help drive this critical change.”
The network’s first move is a spot that started running this afternoon as a loving tribute to the Black community’s joy, resilience and power titled “Dear Black People.” The spot features uplifting music from John Legend.
“In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd and on the heels of the SOS COVID-19 Relief Effort, which raised $17 million, and the series of recent BET News specials, BET is launching this initiative to drive the creation and consumption of content that will help address the issues underlying pervasive racial inequities,” said a BET representative.
The Content for Change initiative will focus on five areas: racial justice, economic empowerment, education, health and civic participation.
The latest campaign marks a year of nearly nonstop social impact and community funding initiatives at BET. In February, the network announced its #ReclaimYourVote campaign in partnership with NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Action Network, Black Economic Alliance, Color of Change, Higher Heights, Human Rights Campaign, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Black Youth Vote and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
The network also committed social media resources throughout the month of February (Black History Month) to featuring LGBTQ creators for its #BETQueerAF campaign, a move that signaled progress for many in light of BET’s longstanding reputation as a network not friendly to the LGBTQ community.
In April, BET held the Saving Our Selves relief effort for Covid-19, a star-studded telethon and fundraiser that brought in $17 million in donations for pandemic relief directed at helping the Black community and small businesses.