As part of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, MTV is airing 12 hours of programming in black and white Monday. The music-themed television channel said the campaign honors the iconic activist’s accomplishments while simultaneously using its massive platform to discuss racial issues in America.
MTV is dubbing the initiative #TheTalk, an aggressive attempt to address racism and bias by inviting watchers, especially millennials, to take part in the discussion and candidly talk about the issues they face related to race and discrimination.
The 12-hour programming block began at 9 a.m. EST (and 9 a.m. PST). To aid discussions, each commercial block will begin with short features that include insights on race from modern musical artists and political personalities like Big Sean, David Oyelowo, Lee Daniels, Kendrick Lamar and more.
“Underlying some of the blindness around bias and prejudice is a lack of understanding of the history -- of why we are where we are today,” MTV President Stephen Friedman told The Huffington Post Monday.
“That’s why Martin Luther King Jr. Day is so critical. It’s a day when we’re immersed in the history and his great legacy, and we can look back at how far we’ve come and, very importantly, look ahead at how far we still need to go.”
#TheTalk is part of another MTV campaign, MTV’s “Look Different” project, a multiyear anti-racism campaign that began in April 2014 and has aired dozens of specials that focus on discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation.
“We did a study and found that 73 percent of 14- to 24-year-olds believe that having more open, constructive conversations about bias will help people become less prejudiced, yet only 10 percent report having those conversations often,” Friedman added. “That’s just not good enough.”