On June 19, 1865–two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation–enslaved people in Texas were finally informed that they were legally free people. We celebrate that day as Juneteenth or Freedom Day.
For Juneteenth 2020, BET has announced that they’ve invited Donald Trump and Joe Biden to participate in a forum on Black issues.
The forum is a part of BET’s June programming to “address systemic racism.” An official description of the potential forum states: President Donald Trump and Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, Joe Biden, have been invited to face Black America for the first time on national television to address their concerns. Each interviewed individually will be asked to address a range of critical issues, including the institutional racism that has led to disparities in housing, health, income and the law enforcement and criminal justice systems. They will be asked to provide their specific plans to improve these issues and move America forward.
“We stand in steadfast solidarity with George Floyd’s family, the many victims of racist brutality, and those who are using their voices and platforms to challenge it. There are no easy solutions for these systemic issues of racism, injustice, and trauma. BET is leveraging every platform and resource at our disposal to support and inform our community and help identify strategies and viable solutions in this time of crisis,” said President of BET, Scott Mills, in a statement. “From in-depth news specials, subject matter expert conversations, interstitials, and round-the-clock coverage on BET.com and social platforms, we are delivering impactful content and resources that speak directly to our viewers. Empowering Black Americans is core to our mission. We are committed to using our unique ability to mobilize our powerful, cross-sector coalition of partners to help drive critical outcomes and amplify leading voices in the Black community.”
The reactions on social media. to the news have been overwhelmingly negative:
Can we just unplug 2020 and blow the dust out of the cartridge? IS IT TOO LATE TO START OVER? https://t.co/9olwbNZTiv
— AJ (@snarkyspice) June 4, 2020
this gonna be a disaster. bullet points and data will be shared. trump will share a graph explaining all he’s done and biden will play a clip from the bfastclub. none of these people have the depth or economic interest to address any problems facing black people. https://t.co/swUYNPKUrS
— betrott (@betrott) June 4, 2020
On #Juneteenth, @BET wants to throw two white men with horrible politics and track records where Black people are concerned (in the form of @realDonaldTrump and @JoeBiden) on TV. On their network. For Black folks to consume.
This is a hellscape. https://t.co/NBayJoPbyy
— Erik Lehnsherr was right. (@DamoneWilliams_) June 4, 2020
WHAT?! On our Independence Day?! Absolutely not. https://t.co/OVxqGGfszU
— Joelle Monique ✍???? (@JoelleMonique) June 4, 2020
Also on Juneteenth, the network will also feature “a day-long array of inspirational programming to lift both mind and spirit, curated films along with special programming that speaks to the African American unrelenting journey to freedom in America.”
No word yet on if either candidate has accepted the invitation for the forum.