Group Brings BET Protest To Network's Awards Show

Rev. Delman Coates brought busloads of people with him to protest at the BET Honors Awards Show. Coates says BET needs to clean up its programming, which he feels portrays negative stereotypes. Video by Hamil Harris/The Washington Post
By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Rev. Delman L. Coates, pastor of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton bused several hundred people into the District on Saturday night to protest the BET Honors awards show as part of his campaign against music videos that air on the company's cable television network.

The glitzy awards show, at the Warner Theatre, recognized African American titans, including Time Warner board Chairman Richard D. Parsons, model-turned-media-mogul Tyra Banks, Princeton professor Cornel West and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). But Coates called the event a "smoke screen."

"The BET Honors award show is a red herring to distract people from the main issue," Coates said. "The thing that African Americans across the country have been complaining about is misogynistic violence and stereotypical images and messages that BET sends out in their video programs that are marketed to youth."

Coates, 34, started his Enough Is Enough Campaign in September by protesting outside the NW Washington home of Debra Lee, president and chief executive of Black Entertainment Television. Since then, the protest has expanded to include the New York home of Philippe P. Dauman, Viacom president and chief executive. Viacom bought BET in 2001.

Coates and his followers have enlisted the support of Walter E. Fauntroy, former D.C. delegate to Congress, E. Faye Williams of the National Political Congress of Black Women and Joe Madison, a WOL (1450 AM) personality.

BET officials responded with a written statement, explaining that the company established a process years ago to review all of its programs and reject those considered inappropriate.

"BET Networks has long been concerned about the portrayals of African Americans in the media overall and in music videos specifically," the statement says.

The network also released a statement from a prominent group of ministers and the Recording Industry Association of America, in support of the awards program.

"Over the years, we have seen BET evolve and change, and while we might not always agree with every step they make, they have always shown a willingness to listen to their viewers, and adjust accordingly," the statement from the ministers said.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company