After 24 seasons aired over 18 years, “The Bachelor” will finally feature a black man as the show’s lead.

On Friday, “Good Morning America” announced that Matt James, a 28-year-old who was originally cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s upcoming season of “The Bachelorette,” will be the flagship show’s next Bachelor.

“The Bachelor” and its spinoff shows have long been criticized for their lack of diversity in casting and for the way contestants of color are treated on the show. In 40 seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” there’s only been one person of color as the lead: Rachel Lindsay, who first appeared in Nick Viall’s 2017 season of “The Bachelor” and then went on to be “The Bachelorette” in 2018.

Recently, a petition calling on ABC and Warner Bros., the show’s production company, to cast a person of color in the lead role garnered over 85,000 signatures. “The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country — both in front of and behind the camera,” the petition reads, following up with 13 commitments signatories would like to see, including giving equitable screen time to white contestants and contestants of color and fair compensation for the show’s employees of color.

When asked on GMA whether James thought ABC’s decision was “too little, too late,” he responded: “I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing.”

It’s unclear whether James remains a contestant on Crawley’s season of “Bachelorette.” Filming has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the season will air in the fall, GMA said. James is friends with several of the shows’ alumni, GMA said, including Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown, who was the 2019 Bachelorette.

James noted that he didn’t even tell his mother about the announcement before it was made — because she can’t keep a secret. He’s looking for a woman who’s “selfless, honest, caring and compassionate,” adding that he hopes his cast of contestants will be diverse, too.

Lindsay appeared on GMA as well, saying that the show still has a long way to go. Lindsay said she’d like to see producers of color behind the camera, and “I’d like to see them cast leads who are interested in dating outside of their race.”

The announcement of James’s casting comes a few days after Lindsay spoke out strongly against Bachelor Nation’s record on diversity on the “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast she co-hosts with fellow former Bachelorette Becca Kufrin. In the conversation, Lindsay said that she originally turned down the offer to be the Bachelorette. Eventually she said yes — not because she believed she would find love on the show but because she thought she could improve the franchise’s record on race. “It’s bigger than me. They need representation and I felt that I could do it well,” Lindsay said of the decision, noting that she was happily wrong about finding love on “The Bachelorette.” Lindsay and her final pick, Bryan Abasolo, got married last year.

“I also hoped that I could start a trend in the right direction,” Lindsay added. “My hope was that more people that look like me would start to watch the show, more people that look like me would apply to the show, they would be visible on this show, the audience would learn to be more accepting of the show and we would eventually see more leads of color on the show. None of that has happened in three years.”

Instead, Lindsay said, the Bachelor Nation “perpetuates and mirrors exactly what is wrong in our society and [continues] to play into an audience that is willing to accept it, and I’m tired of it.”

She’s also tired of feeling like the franchise doesn’t have her back. “There have been a number of times that contestants have done racist things or said it and the franchise is completely silent on it. … I’m sick of pretending that I’m fine with it.”

This story has been updated.