December 12, 2011

BET presents The BET HONORS with Host Gabrielle Union

Maya Angelou, Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Spike Lee, The Tuskegee Airmen and Beverly Kearney Will Be Honored For Their Achievements On Saturday, January 14, From The Historic Warner Theater In Washington, D.C.

Hosted by Gabrielle Union the BET HONORS Premieres Early 2012

BET Networks Recognizes Phenomenal Individuals Legendary in African-American Culture for Music, Literature, Entertainment, Media, Service and Education Achievements in the Fifth Annual BET Honors

NEW YORK -In its fifth consecutive year, BET Networks presents BET HONORS, a memorable night celebrating the outstanding achievements of seven extraordinary legends in music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education. Hosted by talented actress Gabrielle Union at the historic Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., BET HONORS celebrates the lifetime contributions and exceptional service of certain individuals to African-American culture in music, literature, entertainment, media, service and education. The star-studded, unforgettable special will premiere during 1st quarter 2012 on BET.

The 2012 honored recipients include renowned poet/author Maya Angelou (Literary Arts), internationally acclaimed musician Stevie Wonder (Musical Arts), Grammy-Award winning songstress Mariah Carey (Entertainer), influential filmmaker Spike Lee (Media), the heroic Tuskegee Airmen (Service) and inspirational coach and mentor Beverly Kearney (Education).

BET HONORS has become a staple in BET history by celebrating extraordinary African-American shining stars including Cicely Tyson, Jamie Foxx, Iman, Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Sean "Diddy" Combs with unforgettable past performances by Trey Songz, Ne-yo, Yolanda Adams, Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, among many others.

Stephen Hill, President of Music Programming and Specials, BET Networks, and Lynne Harris Taylor, Vice President of Specials, BET Networks are executive producers, along with Cossette Productions.

For more information on THE BET HONORS, visit www.bet.com/bethonors. Viewers can also find series updates on Facebook by liking the fan pages at www.facebook.com/BETHonors. Also, join the conversation about the special on Twitter by using hashtags: #BETHonors; follow the show for all updates & special surprises @BETHonors. For more information about this special visit www.BET.com. *All times EST

About the 2012 BET Honorees
MAYA ANGELOU – Dr.Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Dr. Angelou recently received the prestigious 2011 Medal of Freedom from President Obama. Raised in St. Louis, Missouri and Stamps, Arkansas, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture. As a young woman, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. And during her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. Later she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom. With the guidance of her friend, novelist James Baldwin, suggested and encouraged Dr.Angelou to write her autobiography, which became known as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Published in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success resulting in Dr.Angelou becoming the first African-American woman to have the longest running book, appear on the New York Times Paperback, Nonfiction Best Seller List. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles. A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots (1977) and John Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993) and Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion (2006). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante. Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000 by President Clinton, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. Dr. Angelou has received over 50 honorary degrees and is the first lifetime Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Dr.Angelou is an active member of several community, civil and professional organizations, including Harlem Writer's Guild, Horatio Alger Association, Clinton Global Initiative, SeeForever Foundation and has several public and charter schools, libraries and apartments named in her honor.

STEVIE WONDER – Stevie Wonder is a legendary artist, songwriter, musician, and producer who at the age of 13, was the youngest recording artist to achieve a #1 single with "Fingertips, Part 2". He went on to amass 49 Top Forty singles, including "I Was Made To Love Her", "For Once In My Life", "Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours", 32 #1 singles which include, "You Are the Sunshine Of My Life", "Superstition", "Sir Duke", and worldwide sales of over 100 million units. Among his many awards, acknowledgements and achievements, Stevie has received 25 Grammy Awards, the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and an Academy Award and Golden Globe in 1984 for "I Just Called To Say I Love You" from the film The Woman In Red. Universally recognized as one of the most influential musicians in the world, Stevie has also demonstrated extraordinary humanitarian efforts, philanthropic leadership, and generosity of spirit. As an activist, Stevie's "Happy Birthday", became the rallying song in his efforts to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national American holiday. Stevie is a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on persons with disabilities.

MARIAH CAREY – Multifaceted entertainer Mariah Carey continues her journey as one of the world's most influential superstars. Her recent album, MERRY CHRISTMAS II YOU is Mariah Carey's 13th studio album, following up her worldwide multi-million-selling Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel (released September 2009), her multi-platinum E=MC2 (2008), and worldwide 10 million selling The Emancipation Of Mimi (2005). The Emancipation Of Mimi generated three Grammy awards (including Best Contemporary R&B Album), two #1 singles, and countless more honors during its 18-month chart stay. Soundscan's biggest-selling album of 2005, Mimi featured "We Belong Together" (Grammy winner for Best Female R&B Vocal and Best R&B Song) and "Don't Forget About Us," Mariah's 16th and 17th #1 career singles respectively. They tied one of the most enduring chart records in Billboard Hot 100 history, Elvis Presley's 17 #1's. Three years later, Mariah surpassed Elvis when "Touch My Body" (from E=MC2) became her 18th #1 Hot 100 hit. "Touch My Body" spent two weeks at the top, Mariah's 78th and 79th cumulative career weeks at #1, which tied Elvis' long-standing all-time high of 79 weeks at #1, as calculated by Billboard. Mariah is now positioned as the only active recording artist in the 50 years of the Hot 100 (which began in 1958) with the potential to surpass the Beatles' all-time high of 20 #1 hits. The success of E=MC2 brought total sales of Mariah's albums, singles and videos to more than 200 million worldwide, distancing her even further from the pack as the top-selling female recording artist in history.

SPIKE LEE – Spike Lee is a notable writer, director, producer, actor, and author who revolutionized both the landscape of independent cinema and the role of black talent in film. Widely regarded as a premiere African-American filmmaker, Lee is a forerunner in the 'do it yourself' school of filmmaking. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in Brooklyn, Lee returned south to attend Morehouse College. After graduation, he returned to Brooklyn to continue his education at New York University's Tisch School of Arts in Manhattan, where he received his Master of Fine Arts Degree in film production. He founded 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, based in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, where he has resided since childhood. His film credits include such films as Miracle at St. Anna, Inside Man, 25th Hour, The Original Kings of Comedy, Bamboozled and Summer of Sam. Lee's films Girl 6, Get On the Bus, Do the Right Thing and Clockers display his ability to showcase a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques that challenge cultural assumptions, not only about race, but class and gender identity as well. Lee's timely 1989 film, Do the Right Thing, garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film and Director awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Lee's Jungle Fever, Mo' Better Blues, Clockers and Crooklyn were also well received by critics and fans alike. His epic drama Malcolm X starring Denzel Washington, received two Academy Award nominations. In addition to his film achievements, Lee has produced and directed numerous music videos, commercials, documentaries and sports programs, and authored six books on the making of his films.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN - The Tuskegee Airmen were dedicated, determined young men who enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps to become America's first black military airmen. They accepted the challenge during a time when many people thought that blacks lacked the intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. Three government initiatives happened between 1938 and 1940 and were instrumental in paving the way for blacks to participate in the nation's defense and for blacks to become military pilots. In 1940, the Selective Service and Training Service Act was passed by U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. That same year, the War Department announced that the Civil Aeronautics Authority, in cooperation with the U.S. Army, would start the development of "colored personnel" for the aviation service, this paved the way for blacks to train as pilots and as vital support personnel. These men came from every part of the country each one possessed a strong personal desire to serve the United States of America at the best of his ability. The military selected the Tuskegee Institute to train pilots because of its commitment to aeronautical training. Tuskegee Airmen include the men who were involved under the "Tuskegee Military Experiment" from 1941 to 1946. That "experiment" is now referred to as the "Tuskegee Experience," by Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. The Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 1200 missions for the 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons under 12th Air Force. On March 29, 2007, The Tuskegee Airmen, as a group, were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush. The Tuskegee Airmen will live on forever in the pages of history because they accepted the challenge proudly, and succeeded in proving to the world that blacks could fly. While all along, displaying skill and determination, and suppressing their internal rage from humiliation and indignation caused by repeated experiences of racism and bigotry. These men fought two wars - one against a military enemy force overseas and another one against racism at home.

BEVERLY KEARNEY - Beverly Kearney, affectionately known as "Bev" is one of those rare stars. Her passion and gift for coaching and mentoring has inspired some of the finest athletes to achieve their greatest successes. This includes twelve Olympians winning seven Olympic medals, three of which were gold. Recognized as one of the winningest coaches in the history of track and field, Bev was inducted into the prestigious International Women's Sports Hall of Fame. Her record of seven national championships is the highest among African-American coaches in all collegiate Division 1 Sports, and second among women coaches. She has most recently been honored with several other awards including United States Track and Field Hall of Fame and the 2007-08. The "Lifetime Achievement Award" for Auburn University marking only the second time in History that a woman has received that award and the first African-American in history to receive the award. In 2009 Woman's Day magazine named her as one of their "50 Women on a Mission" along with such notables as Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Angelina Jolie. Bev has been the Head Coach of the University of Texas Women's Track and Field for eighteen years. She also served as the Head Coach at University of Florida and University of Toledo and Assistant Coach at University of Tennessee and Indiana State University. The men and women she has coached throughout her 30-year career stand out as America's best Athletes with over a 95% graduation rate and a total of 250 All-American's calling her their coach. Bev's many titles do little justice for Bev's ability to motivate, empower and realize matchless goals repeatedly and consistently. Beyond her work as a UT Head Coach, Beverly founded Pursuit of Dreams, a non-profit organization providing intervention resources, motivation, and guidance.

GABRIELLE UNION – One of today's hottest stars, Gabrielle Union, continues to shine. Gabrielle can soon be seen in Tyler Perry's GOOD DEEDS for Lionsgate in theatres February 24th and Screen Gems' THINK LIKE A MAN, based on Steve Harvey's book "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man" out March 9th. Gabrielle recently wrapped production for Film Science's independent film, IN OUR NATURE, starring opposite John Slattery, Zach Gilford and Jena Malone, also due out in 2012. Known for her role in the cult hit BRING IT ON, Gabrielle's other film credits include Cadillac Records, The Perfect Holiday, Daddy's Little Girls, Bad Boys II, Deliver Us From Eva, Two Can Play That Game, Love & Basketball, Cradle to the Grave, Ten Things I Hate About You, and many more Hollywood hits. Gabrielle has also appeared in countless TV shows including ABC's Flash Forward, NBC's Life and ABC's Ugly Betty. Gabrielle Union's passion for acting is rivaled by her involvement as an Ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation as well as her support for the Young Survivor Coalition (YSC) and the Rape Treatment Center (RTC) at UCLA. Gabrielle currently serves as a brand ambassador for Neutrogena. Featured in their national television and print campaigns, Gabrielle has been acting as spokesperson since 2004.

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