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January 19, 2015

MTV airs in black and white to spark race discussion

The act is in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

To spark a discussion about race, MTV will air in black and white for 12 hours on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

  • Promote #TheTalk initiative, by using the hashtag to encourage race discussions on Twitter.

“The device of turning us black and white is going to be really— visually— a jolt to say, you know what, there are differences and if we are going to ever get to a freer, more equal society the best thing we can begin to do is talk about them," MTV President Stephen Friedman told the Associated Press.

Throughout the day, the black-and-white programming will be interspersed with personal and candid reflections on race by entertainers and public officials, including Kendrick Lamar, Big Sean, Jordin Sparks, Pete Wentz, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. John Lewis, Sen. Cory Booker, "Selma" director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo.

The Oscar-nominated film "Selma" chronicles the 1965 marches for voting rights that King led through Alabama.  Philadelphia students can see "Selma" free on Monday at participating theaters. 

In a recent interview with CNN,  Sen. Cory Booker recently said The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words, which were written in April 1963 from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, ring as true today as they did then:

 "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

What King knew was that the fullest potential of our nation will never be achieved until all Americans have the ability to access the freedom, justice and equality that we so proudly proclaim, Booker said.

In addition to entertaining its audience, MTV has traditionally engaged viewers in social issues, Friedman said. The latest MTV initiative is a part of its Look Different anti-bias campaign that launched in April 2014 to get young people talking about race, gender and sexual orientation.

An MTV study found that 91 percent of millennials believe in equality and believe everyone should be treated equally. About 61 percent of teens and young adults say they have been the target of bias. The percentage is even higher among women, people of color and LGBT.

The campaign created commercials with civil rights groups, including the NAACP, in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer, AP reported.

The network also aired a special, "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word," about transgender youth with the "Orange is the New Black" star.