BET Shows Growth With BET Honors

The BET Honors showed off the grown-up side of BET and offered a taste of the network's potential.

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According to Stephen Hill, president of programming, music and specials for BET, the program "has much more in common with Black Girls Rock [Awards] than the BET Awards. It's about celebrating African Americans for contributions beyond just dancing and singing."

But the audience will likely wonder, why can't BET do this all the time? Sure, it's an entertainment network, but the event should put to rest any doubts about whether it's possible to merge fun and meaning. Despite heavy discussion of substantive social issues, it didn't turn into a PBS special -- there were jokes from Cedric the Entertainer and Jamie Foxx; and host Gabrielle Union told us on the red carpet, "I have 11 outfit changes!" During the ceremony, she coyly acknowledged each gown change for the audience. And no one was bored. Performances by Trey Songz and Guy and a Teena Marie tribute by Marsha Ambrosius had the audience dancing.

In his introduction of Tyson, Tyler Perry explained his take on the significance of the event: "If no one calls you on your birthday, you make yourself a cake. If we don't celebrate our successes, no one else will." If the honors are any indication, it's possible that BET is starting to get it.

The special will premiere on Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CDT).

Jenée Desmond-Harris is a contributor to The Root.

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