The Apollo Theater and BET Networks Presents "Vote Like Your Life Depends On It" Town Hall Forum

Sep 05, 2012
By ViacomCBS Staff

The Apollo Theater and BET Networks will partner to present "Vote Like Your Life Depends On It", a FREE community town hall forum to be held at the legendary Apollo on Monday, September 17th at 7:30pm. The discussion will feature esteemed panelists focusing on issues impacting the presidential election, from Supreme Court nominations and health care to voter suppression tactics and access to education. The event marks the launch of the Apollo's new series - Apollo Uptown Hall -and is part of BET Network's multi-platform "Vote Like Your Life Depends On It" initiative, designed to track every aspect of the elections process and inform the nation about the issues that matter most to the African-American community. Moderated by BET Networks star and host of the network's new show DON'T SLEEP!, T.J. Holmes, the panel will include: civil rights leader and television and radio host, Rev. Al Sharpton, author and academic Michael Eric Dyson, The New York Amsterdam News publisher Elinor Tatum, political analyst and author Keli Goff and James Braxton Peterson, Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University. The New York Amsterdam News is the event's community partner. Non-registered New Yorkers will be able to register to vote on-site. Those interested in attending can RSVP in advance at

As one of upper Manhattan's most active performance venues and working theaters, the Apollo preserves and promotes the cultural heritage of Harlem, showcasing a diverse array of performers and performance genres, and presents a series of education and community programs. The Apollo is also deeply committed to serving and enhancing the life of its community, serving as a cultural and economic anchor and providing a forum for meaningful discussion. The Apollo Uptown Hall series will feature innovative activities linking performing arts presentations activities and events that respond to critical global issues that have relevance to the Harlem community and that speak to a broader audience. The Theater plans to host additional 2012 election year related events under Uptown Hall that will be announced at a later date.

"Since its inception, the Apollo Theater has served as a "town hall" for local community residents as well as people from all across New York City," said Jonelle Procope, President & CEO of the Apollo Theater. "This has been demonstrated by the huge turnout and response to planned events such as the Bradley-Gore presidential debate and viewing event(s) during President Obama's election campaign. The Apollo is also a kind of organic gathering place for people at historic moments in African-American culture, as when thousands of people flocked to the Theater when Michael Jackson and James Brown passed away. Uptown Hall is a natural extension of the role we have always played, and creates a platform for us to more regularly engage the community in conversations that matter."

The BET Vote 2012 campaign provides multi-phase political coverage for the 2012 elections, focused on voter suppression, voter rights and rallying the community around the important policies that directly affect them with issues-based content and comprehensive political analysis. With millions of African-Americans not yet registered to vote, BET Networks is seizing this election year to encourage its audience to embrace and participate in their civic duty, so that they are set to vote in November. The "Vote Like Your Life Depends On It" campaign is a strong example of BET Networks' dedicated multiplatform approach to covering the 2012 presidential election.

"This year's election is developing into yet another historic presidential race and we are continuing to make a dedicated effort to mobilize the significant voting block of unregistered African-Americans to sign up and get to the polls," said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. "Now more than ever issues that affect our community and our votes will impact the political outcomes of several states on Election Day. BET will be the source to provide a comprehensive voting information experience on-air and online from an African-American perspective. Our votes are going to make a real difference in this election."

About the Apollo Theater

The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo's stage. The Apollo Theater's new artistic vision builds on its legacy. New Apollo programming has music as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance and theater presentations. The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant presentations, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work.Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions:, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks - BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.