Louis Carr looks back on his part in elevating Black excellence
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- Published on November 19, 2023
- In Interview
Louis Carr speaks with Ron Stodghill about his career with BET Network and his continuous work in helping Black America develop its industries and professionals.
DETOUR’s Ron Stodghill interviews Black Entertainment Television Networks’ President of Media Sales Louis Carr about his journey since the company’s conception conception until today in another episode of Publisher’s Studio.
Black Entertainment Television LLC. (BET) is a network that broadcasts television, music, news and lifestyle content that highlights and honors Black culture and Black creators. The company was founded in the 1980s, by Robert L. Johnson and Sheila Johnson, when the only examples of Black culture and Black people on screen included “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Family Matters” and “The Cosby Show.”
The Johnsons had a vision to elevate and scale Black culture across the nation, and Robert wanted Louis Carr along for the journey. Carr previously worked at Black Enterprise magazine before Bob Johnson invited him to BET, an invitation Carr turned down three times before saying yes.
“He said, ‘I’m gonna be successful with or without you, but I would rather be successful with you–because I think you can bring great value to the vision that I am trying to achieve.’”
And successful they became. BET has become one of the largest multi-platform companies and has spread Black culture to an audience of both Black people and people who appreciate and celebrate the culture. Carr’s responsibility in making this wave of popular culture possible was a bit more behind the screens.
“Well, initially, it was to sort of, what I call even today, is to educate corporate America on the value of Black people.”
After educating the whites on the value they refused to see (if such an education can ever really end), Carr took this education a step further and asked more in-depth questions about the Black people BET was reaching.
“We had to come up with, you know, insights and data to kinda show that, you know, Black people were more engaged and more emotional about seeing themselves in a real Black environment versus just as any environment.”
Carr continues to support Black culture and to support the development of Black Americans through his company Waymaker.
“The real purpose of the blueprint is to help people get knowledge and understanding so that when they walk out that door, they feel much better than when they walked in no matter what level that they are.”
Publisher’s Studio is hosted at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism and highlights the people, stories, and trends important to DETOUR.
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Campbell Hamai is a journalist and associate producer with Detour through the Meredith-McClatchy Scholarship sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri. She is passionate about elevating the work and voices of POC authors and creators. Hamai can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.