The 83-year-old picture taker, who took his first celebrity pic of Muhammad Ali while serving in the Air Force in the early 1960s, has photographed a who’s who of Black stars over the years, including Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson and Berry Gordy. Jones’ work, much of which is featured in his book “Hollywood in Black: 40 years of Photographs by Bill Jones,” has appeared in Los Angeles newspapers and national publications such as Ebony and Jet. Despite his age, Jones remains active and can still be found working the red carpet at various Hollywood events.
Despite his status as a one of the most respected photographers ever, Jones said he was unable to do his job at the BET Awards. In a statement to Tanya Young Williams’ weekly talk show, “Etc. Etc. Etc, broadcast on Spreecast, Jones weighed in on the BET snub as he took note of the lack of respect given to the established members of the media.
“As a photojournalist, I’ve always felt that it’s important to document the important moments in Black America from the Civil Rights Movement to a post-Obama Era. I think there’s a problem when one of the largest networks, catering to African Americans, doesn’t show Black press the respect and dignity it deserves in doing its job effectively,” he stated.” From a professional standpoint, it was truly disappointing and disgraceful that members of press were treated like second-class citizens for an awards show, honoring Black Music Month.”
Jones wasn’t the only established media member denied entry into the BET awards. In a column posted on The Huffington Post’s website, Young Williams noted how other veteran journalist were denied credentials to the BET Awards for the first time. Among those denied was Tanya Hart, who set up BET’s West Coast production operations and launched the network’s first show, “Live from LA with Tanya Hart,” out of their Burbank Studios in 1992.
In addition to putting BET on blast for Jones’ snub, Hart spoke on negative changes in the channel’s culture since it was no longer a Black-owned network after Viacom purchased it in 2001.
“Bill Jones is beloved by many for his excellence as a photographer, as well as, his gentle demeanor on and off the red carpet,” Hart said while take a shot at BET Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Debra Lee. “BET and its leadership owe Mr. Jones and other snubbed veteran journalists, who have helped BET promote its content when the “mainstream media” would not, a huge apology. I wouldn’t be surprised if the call didn’t come from Ms. Debra Lee herself – she is that kind if of woman.”
For more on Bill Jones and his BET Awards snub, click over to the Huffington Post.