For the first time in Bachelor history, the man asking "Will you accept this rose?" will be black. 

We all know the saying, “Will you accept this rose?” But did you know that the person behind the rose has never been a black man? Well, that’s about to change. ABC has cast its first black lead on The Bachelor.

In its 18 years and 40 seasons on the air, the popular Bachelor franchise has never cast a black male as its bachelor. In fact, the only man of color that the show has ever cast was Juan Pablo Galavis from Season 18.

This led to the outcry of many fans who demanded to see more diversity in the show. In fact, 50,000 people signed a petition pleading with ABC to address their lack of diversity on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. The petition stated that “ABC and Warner Bros. have an opportunity and responsibility to feature Black, Indigenous, People of Color relationships, families, and storylines. The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country—both in front of and behind the camera.”

On Friday, June 12, ABC told its fans that they'd heard their cries. The @BachelorABC Twitter account posted a picture of Matt James with the headline, “It’s official… your next Bachelor is @mattjames919."

Meet Matt James

Matt James is a 28-year-old real estate broker from North Carolina. He founded ABC Food Tours, an organization that engages kids in underserved communities and takes groups of students to restaurants in lower Manhattan.

James is already a well-known figure in Bachelor Nation. He was a popular contestant on the 16th season of The Bachelorette and best friend of former Bachelorette contestant, Tyler Cameron. He was originally cast as a contestant of Clare Crowley’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette, but production shut down due to the coronavirus and then James was pulled to star in his own show.

“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season,” said ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke. “When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt, and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor.”

Host Chris Harrington also took to Twitter to express the producers' excitement to move forward with James as the next bachelor and their acceptance of responsibility for the lack of diversity on the show. 

Why Did It Take So Long?   

If you’re a fan of the Bachelor franchise, then you know that the next lead is typically chosen from the top three or four finalists from the last season of the show. Now this formula makes complete sense; however, it has also prevented a lot of people of color from holding the coveted lead role. Producers of the show at Warner Bros. in association with ABC started casting a more diverse contestant pool in the hopes that one would make it far on the show. However, these contestants were typically sent home in the first couple of episodes.

Attorney Rachel Lindsay was finally selected as the first black lead of the series in The Bachelorette during Season 13. In an interview, she said that she had considered cutting ties with the franchise because of how embarrassing the lack of diversity was.

“We are on 45 presidents. And in 45 presidents there’s been one black president," she said. "You are almost on par to say you’re more likely to become president of the United States then you are a black lead in this franchise. That’s insane. That’s ridiculous.”

ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke believes this is just the start.

“This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise,” she said. “We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first black bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”

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