Tallahassee, Florida—July 11, 2019–Black News Channel (BNC), the nation’s only African American news network, was honored in a series of public and private events organized by Louisiana state lawmakers, New Orleans city officials, and local social media influencers and strategists during a recent visit to The Big Easy. BNC’s presence in New Orleans kicked-off the city’s weekend celebration of the 25th annual Essence Festival.
Network Chairman J.C. Watts, Jr. and BNC’s executive team began their visit to New Orleans with an evening reception and interactive discussion hosted by NOLA’s arts and entertainment community. On the main stage at Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club and restaurant, Watts participated in a live audience conversation hosted by New Orleans’ own Gus Bennett. The conversation centered around BNC’s mission to provide an authentic, new voice that represents African Americans in mainstream media and fosters political, economic, and social discourse. Gus Bennett is an award-winning photographer who is noted for his outstanding achievements and contribution in bridging communities through the arts.
The following day, Watts joined radio talk show host Oliver Thomas on WBOK’s The Good Morning Show. WBOK serves the greater New Orleans market and has a trusted and long-standing reputation as “the voice of the African American perspective in New Orleans.” During the radio interview, Watts informed the station’s listeners that BNC will provide culturally-specific programming for African American communities and that the network is set to launch on November 15th. Watts was also interviewed at the Telemundo New Orleans studio by reporter Valeria Kawas.
At the next stop on the tour, Louisiana state lawmakers and New Orleans city elected officials welcomed the nation’s only African American news network with open arms. In a joint press conference, Councilman Mark Spears, Jr. was joined by state lawmakers and local officials to recognize Black News Chanel for its contribution to the African American community and for providing culturally-specific news and educational programming that is long overdue. Councilman Spears used the press conference to reach local residents and more than 550,000 guests visiting the great state of Louisiana for the 25th Essence Festival in New Orleans.
After the official press conference, Watts participated in an informal question and answer session at Loyola University with New Orleans’ prominent social media influencers and strategists in a live Web-streaming forum hosted by the National Association of Black Journalist Loyola University Chapter. The event was moderated by New Orleans native, poet, and spoken-word artist Sunni Patterson who serves as a cultural worker and grassroots activist that uses art and poetry to encourage dialogue and healing. The social media influencers and strategists who participated in the open panel Q&A are: Anthony Jackson, Jr., Dee Hollins, Tory Davis, Quincy Williams, Dr. Domonique Decou, Rasheed Salahuddin, and Leroy Crawford.
Before leaving New Orleans, BNC hosted a traditional New Orleans all-white attire event to thank those in The Crescent City who are building excitement and anticipation for the network, as well as pledging their continued support. During the event, Watts was awarded an official proclamation from the State of Louisiana Legislature recognizing BNC for its life-changing commitment to authentically portray African American lives and culture in mainstream media. BNC’s event honored the Queens of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club and recognized their charitable contributions to the local community.
“We felt more than just welcomed and supported in New Orleans and the State of Louisiana,” says network Chairman J.C. Watts, Jr. “We felt like family.”
Black News Channel is an independent network that is minority owned and operated, and it will be the nation’s only provider of 24/7 cable news programming dedicated to covering the unique perspective of African American communities. BNC is the endeavor of the network’s visionaries and co-founders, Chairman J.C. Watts, Jr. and CEO Bob Brillante. BNC will provide access to information and educational programming to meet the specific needs of this growing and dynamic community that is a major consumer of subscription television services. BNC will provide an authentic, new voice that represents African Americans in mainstream media and fosters political, economic, and social discourse; the network will be one voice representing the many voices of African Americans. BNC’s programming will illuminate truth about the unique challenges facing urban communities and help close the “image gap” that exists today between the negative black stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media news and our enterprising African American communities.