BET Looks Back, Charges Ahead, and Says 'Yes to Us'

Celebrating Black history and culture

BET honors the spirit of Black culture through a stirring short film that mixes archival footage with clips from some of the cable network's shows.

"Truth be told, our history is not just a look back, it's a charge forward," the minute-long spot begins as ominous waves slash across the screen, suggesting the shameful ocean voyages that brought Black folks to American shores in the days of slavery.

"Our history, which was created by our ancestors, doesn't end with them—it forever lives through us," the narration continues. "We celebrate our Black history because we continue to make American history. We celebrate our legacy because we are the proud stewards of our ancestors' impossible dreams."

Black Panther Party leaders, civil rights marchers, John Lewis, George Floyd, Kobe Bryant, Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Hank Aaron, Amanda Gorman and many others appear, reminding us of the fine line between tragedy and triumph. This vibrant continuum, fraught at times with heartache and pain, is a living, breathing entity, driven by the heartbeats of those who never lose faith and fight hard for a better world.

Bits from BET's own offerings include a defiant late-night protest, generations of women at a family gathering, and a boy draped in the Stars & Stripes.

Such images, deftly intertwined with historical elements from news sources, celebrate the nexus of Black history and creativity, evoking the network's power to stir the soul. The spot's concluding lines reflect that vibrant fusion and herald a brighter tomorrow:

"We are the authors of our own stories. And we will continue to celebrate the legacy of our heroes who make all of us proud. Truth be told, our impact is universal, boundless, infinite, and so much more. We say yes to these truths. We say yes to our future. We say yes to us."

Developed by the network's brand team, the film strives "to thread together the past, present and future," BET senior writer/producer Jo-Well Paupaw tells Muse. "The history of Black people in America is painful, but it’s also powerful. We see the spirit of that in our audience and the stories we tell on BET."

"Our goal was to create a feeling of connectedness," she says. "Black history energizes and inspires our audience. It gives confidence to the Black community and the next generation that anything is possible."

This recent Spike Lee-narrated promo from the Ghetto Film School hits similar themes, as does Black Tea, Muse by Clio's new interview series focusing on Black women in advertising.


AGENCY: BET Brand Creative
PRODUCTION MANAGER: Hershelle Burton, Sr. Project Manager at BET
CREATIVES: Kendrick Reid, SVP and Exec Creative Director at BET
Adrian Hilton, Vice President Creative Director at BET
Jerome Q. Ford, Creative Director at BET
Jo-Well Paupaw, Senior Writer Producer at BET
Kevin Abreu, Associate Producer at BET
EDITOR: Ed Trader, Director Editorial Operations at BET
COLOR CORRECTION: Charles Kline, Grdian FX
VO: Celeste Seda, Talent at BET
AUDIO MIXER: Brady Hearn

MUSIC COMPANY: Butter Music & Sound
EP: Ian Jeffreys
Producer: Renée Massé
ECD: Aaron Kotler
Composer: Hunter LaMar

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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