Instead of throwing itself a glitzy 30th birthday party, the executives at Black Entertainment Television decided instead to take a more subdued route, producing a retrospective of major landmarks in the African-American experience over the past three decades, reports the New York Daily News.
"BET 30: Moments and Movements" is set to air December 19 on the network and will recount 30 events that shaped black America, including the outbreak of AIDS, the O.J. Simpson trail and the election of Barack Obama.
"We realized it's not just BET's anniversary, but a lot has happened over 30 years," said Stephen Hill, the network's executive VP of entertainment and music programming in an interview with the paper. "So we decided to take the last 30 years and take a unique and fresh look at it."
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A slew of big name celebs have been tapped to share their perspective on events that take part in the special, including Jay-Z, Magic Johnson, Rodney King, Vanessa Williams, and Michael Jordan.
Race relations, for example, are examined through the not just the Rodney King beatings, but also the O.J. Simpson trial. Ed Gordon of B.E.T recorded the first live interview with Simpson after his murder trail.
In another case, the devastation of the crack epidemic on the black community is seen through the eyes of one of the 1980s biggest pop stars.
"We talk to El DeBarge about his personal struggle," Hill said of the performer who struggled through a crack addiction and jail time. "We represent the crack epidemic through his personal struggle."
Even though some major figures are nowhere to be seen - Mike Tyson, for example - Hill said that he is happy with what the network was able to accomplish.
"It is the definitive look at black culture and consciousness for the last 30 years," Hill said. "I'm really proud of the team putting this together. This is something we could put in a time capsule, look back on and get some idea what it was like in black America for the past 30 years."