With communities of color reportedly most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, BET (Black Entertainment Television), a subsidiary of ViacomCBS, is backing a number of initiatives in support.
BET, in partnership with the NAACP, United Way Worldwide, leaders in the African American creative, civil rights and business communities said it would provide financial, educational and community support directly to African Americans hardest hit by the crisis through the “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” broadcast special.
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“The COVID-19 pandemic is savagely compounding the profound health and financial vulnerabilities many Black Americans face. Every day, there are new reports of how this pandemic is killing African Americans at much higher rates than other communities,” Scott Mills, president of BET, said in a statement. “BET is using all of our resources — our capital, our media platforms, our relationships with the creative community, sponsors, businesses and charitable organizations to support our community in this time of crisis.”
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Indeed, BET, which was founded by Robert L. Johnson, has a 40-year legacy of helping afflicted communities of color, raising $12 million for Katrina victims and millions more for Haiti earthquake victims.
The “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” broadcast special, will air on April 22nd at 8 pm EDT. The special, co-hosted by Grammy Award-Winning singer/actress Kelly Rowland, TV personality Terrence J, and actress Regina Hall; will feature virtual appearances and musical performances from some of the biggest names in music and entertainment as they share tips on how to manage, cope and help during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
Celebrity guest appearances and performances will include DJ Khaled, Charlie Wilson, Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Fantasia, Melvin Crispell III, and many more. The special will give up-to-date information and drive viewers to needed resources. In partnership with United Way, proceeds are being donated to African American communities severely impacted by COVID-19.
“Our goal for this special is to come together in a collective spirit of strength, community and hope. As we unite in harmony and compassion, through the collective healing power of music, comedy and entertainment, we can bring restoration and inspire the world that our brighter days are ahead,” said Connie Orlando, EVP of specials, music programming and music strategy at BET.
To support these initiatives, BET has established a COVID-19 relief fund in partnership with United Way Worldwide. United Way, the largest private funder of human services in the U.S., has a presence in 95% of communities across the country, and has, for more than 130 years, mobilized the caring power of the community to advance the common good.
Financial donations from the joint fund will allow United Way to disburse resources to local organizations in New York City, Atlanta, New Orleans, Detroit and Chicago, regions that have been most impacted by this crisis.
BET is also providing content on COVID-19 across multiple digital platforms, including a four-part virtual town hall series in partnership with the NAACP. On April 8, at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT, “Unmasked: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Series Powered by NAACP & BET” will stream on NAACP.org and focus on how the pandemic is affecting African Americans and what steps the community can take to build an action plan for positive change. The first town hall will focus on the health, emotional, economic toll, congressional response and how activists can apply pressure to ensure legislation is equitable. Additionally, BET.com is reporting daily on what the African American community needs to know about COVID-19.